FiFi Awards 2007 Finalists Announced

Black Orchid

The Fragrance Foundation has announced the top five finalists in each of 20 award categories on Friday, April 27th. “The winners will be presented at the 35th Annual FiFi Awards & Celebration event on Thursday May 31st in the Winter Garden at The World Financial Center in New York City.” The top five finalists have been selected out of the top ten semi-finalists. Fragrance of the Year – Women’s Nouveau Niche :

  • Armani Privé Cuir Amethyst (unisex) – Giorgio Armani Parfums
  • Delices de Cartier – Cartier North America •Kenzo Amour – Kenzo Parfums
  • The Scent of Peace – Bond No. 9 New York – Laurice & Co.
  • Tom Ford Black Orchid – Tom Ford Beauty


Tom Ford and the uk’s biggest fashion event

Tom Ford and Fashion FringeThe deadline for Fashion Fringe the talent-searching initiative launched two years ago by Colin McDowell and now guest chaired by Tom Ford (pictured)looms this Friday. Previous winners include Gavin Douglas, Erdem and Basso & Brooke, who have all become extremely well-known in the industry. To qualify for the competition you don’t have to be a fashion student, stylist or designer-just submit your drawings in by the end of the week. This year’s best candidate will enter into a contract with new Fashion Fringe partner NET-A-PORTER.COM alongside showing their collection at London Fashion Week in February. London’s Centre for Fashion Enterprise will also lend their financial support helping the winner to set up their own business. 

Applicants must be over the age of 21 and come from the UK or Ireland-to download an application form visit -just remember the deadline is this Friday.


Ford Focus

Kate MiddletonAs rumors go this is a hot one. Kate Middleton, formerly of the Prince William and Kate Middleton show, might go to work for Tom Ford as some sort of in-house consultant or public-relations person. Since she likes fashion (she works as an accessories buyer for Jigsaw, the British clothing chain), the thinking is that some clever fashion house will score a big public-relations coup by hiring her. (Has Helen Windsor already whispered the idea to her friend Giorgio Armani? Well, ready the smelling salts for Valentino if Giorgio gets her.) And if, maybe as a favor or a kindness owed his ex, young William supports young Kate’s new job by wearing one of her designer’s suits or, even better, turning up at a fashion show, she will be worth her weight in publicity gold.

This is just one of the topics zipping around the restaurant of the Carlyle Hotel, setting for a dinner for about 120 people after the grand opening of Tom Ford’s handsome boutique at 845 Madison Avenue, the flagship for his new menswear collection. In his new suits Tom looks, everyone notices this and The Times reports it, about four inches taller than he ever did when he worked for Gucci.

Dinner guests included Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Hudson, Liv Tyler, Julianne Moore, the prettiest pregnant woman in showbiz, Naomi Watts, Charlie Rose, Rachel Feinstein and John Curran, Lisa and Eric Eisner from Los Angeles, Nick and Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn (she is opening a new gallery on Ludlow Street this summer), photographer Steven Klein, Kelly Klein, Nora Ephron, and Nick Pileggi, just to drop a few names heavily.


Tom Ford Undercover

Putting the designer’s new store to the test. 

0014h2.jpgDuring a week of press previews, Tom Ford was his usual self—charming, quotable, perfectly stubbled—as he offered a series of intimate tours of his new Madison Avenue menswear store, the first under his own name. As the designer persuasively stated, the shop’s appeal will rest on exceptional service and immaculate clothes. Nearly everything (from underwear to fragrances) can be custom-designed, and the staff includes 12 salespeople, two tailors, and four seamstresses (there is even an on-site atelier, which Ford dramatically revealed by pulling back a curtain in one of the dressing rooms).

Sounds great, especially when delivered in Ford’s poised Anglo-Texan twang. But we figured the proof is in the pudding, so on the store’s opening day we sent an undercover agent—a young investment banker of our acquaintance with a serious Savile Row habit—to see for himself. First impressions? “The shop was definitely sexy and seductive,” our banker reports. “But the overall effect was that sort of aggressive, in-your-face cool feeling that made Ford famous, which left me a little cold.” In fact, the store is intended to have a residential feel, with many elements (beaver-skin rugs, oversized lamps, the sly Lucio Fontana artwork, seen above behind the model) coming from Ford’s own collections. The design is 1930s-inspired, with a wet bar and even butlers and maids who will fetch you lunch during your appointment. “If they were trying to create a clubby atmosphere, I didn’t quite feel it,” says our source, but quickly adds: “That may be due to it being a little chaotic because it’s their first day.” And more importantly, the clothes had him rethinking his London shopping sprees. “The quality was impressive. Some beautiful fabrics and very nice cuts,” he says. “Bottom line, I made an appointment to go back next week to get fitted for a suit, so I guess I got drawn in.” That Tom, he’ll get you in the end.


Money Does Buy Looks

Tom Ford and his new fashionA PAIR of socks at Tom Ford’s new store costs $75. If this is a problem, stop reading now.

One can gauge from the breathy reaction to Mr. Ford’s new men’s wear collection, which he showed on Monday, that his relevance as a cultural force in fashion has not diminished in the three years since he resigned from Gucci, as had been predicted at times. The mythology of Mr. Ford, who was the emblematic driver of the luxury-brand revivals of last decade, is such that a certain level of significance is attached to his return. What does it mean?

Mr. Ford’s new clothes are lavishly expensive, with suits costing $3,500 off the rack and $350 dress shirts (with seven different collars and three cuff options). Upstairs in the store, which opens today at 845 Madison Avenue at 70th Street, custom suits can be made in the tradition of Savile Row, albeit in a much sexier environment, beginning at $5,000.

The store is staffed with uniformed butlers and maids and a receptionist at the front door, all of whom seemed more than pleased, during a preview, to be relegated to such Old World Disney stock characters. The merch, rather classic when compared with Mr. Ford’s Gucci signatures, is displayed in glass cabinets. Women’s Wear Daily described the concept as “uberluxury.” Sigh.

Collage of Tom Ford fashion

One could read something into Mr. Ford’s return about a prospective fashion revolution among male shoppers, if that had not already been happening with the popularity of Dior Homme, Thom Browne and Michael Bastian. More likely, it speaks to a migration toward more customized niche brands, which cater to a minute portion of the population with no concern about credit card debt.

On this point, Mr. Ford hit the target. Wearing a three-piece suit, with a buttoned-up waistcoat, did he not seem taller, even better looking than before?

“Can you believe how tall he looks?” asked Cathy Hardwick, the designer who gave Mr. Ford his first job. “It’s like he’s had Michael Jackson work done or something.”


When Tom Ford Throws A Party……

the beautiful people show up.

Last night marked the celebration of Tom Ford’s first store opening in NYC. Chloe Sevigny, Naomi Watts, Gwyneth Paltrow, Fishsticks, Sean Combs, Patricia Clarkson Julianne Moore, Liv Tyler and Kate Hudson were all on hand to help with the festivities.

Tom Ford and his guests   Tom Ford and his guests
Gwyneth Paltrow Tom Ford Liv Tyler   Tom Ford and his guests.jpg
Tom Ford Sean Combs   Tom Ford and his guests
Tom Ford Patricia Clarkson   Rufus and Sally Albemarle and Tom Ford


Tom Ford, Post-Gucci, Takes A Vested Interest in Menswear

tford200.jpgDesigner Tom Ford has returned to the fashion spotlight with a menswear collection. His successful revitalization of Gucci in the 1990s sparked an industry-wide rampage to resuscitate other dowager brands and pushed clothing toward a hypersexual aesthetic.

Now he wants to make the man in the gray flannel suit the star of the menswear industry. He’s fetishizing functional buttonholes on jacket sleeves. He’s got a tie silhouette named after Prince Michael of Kent for a fella who wants a knot as big as a child’s fist. He’s got a top hat in his display case.

The Tom Ford brand is a partnership with financial wizard Domenico de Sole. Over the course of a decade, the two masterminded the transformation of Gucci Group from a single brand teetering on the brink of disaster into a conglomerate that now includes Stella McCartney, Balenciaga and Yves Saint Laurent. The pair’s departure from Gucci in 2004 signified the end of an era of rapid expansion by fashion companies.

During his tenure at Gucci, Ford once noted that the essence of his job was to know what consumers wanted before they could even imagine it. He led the way in reviving logos, low-slung boot-cut trousers, embellished sportswear and a slithering disco sensuality.

A larger-than-life personality who used his charm to woo media and customers alike, Ford was one of the few designers with star power to rival that of the Hollywood celebrities he dressed.

On Monday, fashion’s oracle unveiled his collection of men’s ready-to-wear, his made-to-measure atelier and the Madison Avenue boutique in which it is all housed.

“I feel a tremendous amount of pressure, probably of my own making,” Ford says. “I’m sure there’ll be some people wanting to know why there are no sexy hip-huggers.”

The two-story boutique, designed like a townhouse, is decorated to resemble Ford’s own home in London, with beaver-pelt rugs and ebony woodwork. It will be staffed by the usual sales representatives, as well as maids and butlers who will fetch drinks, lunch or whatever else a client in the midst of a private appointment might need.

The idea is to create “a residential environment that reflects the lifestyle of the clients,” Ford says, a description that should give an indication of the sort of disposable income required to indulge in his latest vision. Ready-to-wear suits begin at about $3,200 and made-to-measure ones at $5,000. The least expensive item of clothing in the boutique is a pair of socks — hand-woven — for $75.

The suits, made by Italy’s Ermenegildo Zegna in a licensing agreement, are distinguished by their restrained — even conservative — cut and attention to detail: hand-knotted lapel buttons, tiny buttons that secure the trouser cuffs so that they can be folded down and any dust whisked away by a valet, and BlackBerry pockets constructed so that a man does not have to sacrifice the line of his jacket in the name of technology.

Ford has stocked his display cases with $3,900 silk dressing gowns that are updates of 18th- and 19th-century prints. There are sapphire and diamond cuff links, handmade shoes and riding boots.

This is not fashion — at least not in the way Ford’s former Gucci customers are accustomed to it. The changes from one season to the next will be subtle, perhaps barely discernible. “A lot of the clothes will be seasonless,” he says. “The shoulder shapes should last three years.”


The Tom Ford Report

Tom Ford in his own designs © Terry Richardson(NEW YORK) It’s official: Tom Ford is back. The man who created his own definition of sexy unveiled his Madison Avenue flagship on Monday at a private press preview, and the three-story, 8,680-square-foot store is, to say the least, impressive—remarkable, to be sure, in that it came together in less than a year (crews worked up until 7:00 a.m. the morning of his preview), but more so in how it puts Ford back on track to reclaim his crown in fashion’s thorny circles. The Daily’s Jim Shi sat down with Ford three years after the Gucci Group expat’s 10-year contract expired, and the Texan spoke candidly about his retail revolution at age 45.

OK, Tom, you’re back. Why now?

“I wanted to create a product that I felt there was a real niche in the market for. When I left Gucci, I thought, ‘What am I going to wear?’ I tried to find suits from other competitive brands, but they were either too trendy or the quality wasn’t right or the fabric wasn’t right, so I started having my things made at a tailor in London—which, if you’ve ever aspired to that and you finally get to that moment in time, it’s quite dry. You’re put in a little room with a stool, someone yanks a curtain, and you feel like you’re in boarding school and someone’s going to spank you if something isn’t right. It’s not what I think a lot of people fantasize about. So this is, in a sense, something I don’t think men have had.”

Who’s your male muse?

“I think you’re looking at him. I think it’s me.”

What characteristics embody your new man?

“He’s urban, sophisticated, 28 to 75 years old—somebody who appreciates detail, quality, and cut. The kind of man who might have gone to his own tailor; the kind of man who might dress at one of the highest levels of one of our competitors. I happen to think, at this moment in time, what is fashion for men is this quite classic, chic, somewhat conservative clothing. To me, this was a reaction to something maybe I helped create or was certainly a part of…and that was constantly changing and evolving trends that started leading me to feel quite empty. What I want in my own clothes is quality, and I want to feel and understand why things are costing what they are. It isn’t for everyone; it’s dressing a certain limited part of the population, but we do want to then service the population and satisfy all their dressing needs.”

A model clad in Tom Ford designsAnd the pieces are timeless?

“I would like to think our jacket shoulders and shapes last three years. A lot of clothes are seasonless, and we won’t be marking them down. On top of that, there’ll be little bit of frosting each season to set the mood. Some of the frosting is stuck in customs; we have great swimsuits and things this season with quite bold patterns that look a little bit like the pocket squares that are downstairs. But that’s the frosting on the base of the tailoring and coat shapes and more classic patterns. Most people don’t know that though Zegna manufactures our suits and ready-to-wear, most of the fabrics are developed in house exclusively.”

What’s your marketing strategy, aside from a campaign?

“Well, there won’t be any runway shows, at least not in the moment. We’ll see how that goes. We’ll be dressing our favorite men all over the world, and I suppose that’s really the way we get press. We do have a press collection. We have a press office here, London, Japan, and of course we’ll be showing the clothes like we did on models. I think runway shows—and I’m not criticizing them, as I did well by runway shows—I didn’t want to be pushed to do things to push the silhouette dramatically each season. You can’t capture that in a runway show.”

A model clad in a Tom Ford evening lookWhich celebrities do you have in mind to dress?

“Oh, I don’t like to talk about those things. I think this whole celebrity thing is part of the problem. It should be about the clothes. It’s so formulaic, the fashion world today. You get a celebrity, stick them in front of some wallpaper, you dress them in a dress, they get photographed, and the pictures run all around the world. I’m just really tired of it. I lived through a moment, so I didn’t want to come back to fashion if I did it the same way. That wouldn’t be exciting, which is why I haven’t done women’s; I haven’t figured out how to change that yet. This feels new to me. I realized, being away, that I am naturally a designer. It frustrated me that I didn’t have something to build or make or design. When I figure out a way to add a different dimension that isn’t there, then I’ll do that. Giorgio Armani and Ralph Lauren both started in men’s wear; both built huge businesses in men’s wear. Getting your company up and running, even with every advantage I have, is still a struggle. I want to devote at least the next three years without thinking about women’s.”

What about the Tom Ford woman?

“For women, you’ve had companies like Chanel in the past, where you could find a very high level of ready-to-wear and then have things made, more in the old-fashioned service of couture than what it is now—Chanel used to have 800 people sewing, and you would go there to have your wardrobe made. Men have never really had that, so it’s a hybrid between a tailor and a fashion company. [Incidentally, both Ford’s publicists, Lisa Schiek and Shirin von Wulffen, were clad in Chanel ensembles during the preview.]

The main ready-to-wear floor at Tom Ford © Keiron O’ConnorWhat was your ultimate goal in building this store?

“It was to create an environment for men to shop in where they would be given a really high level of service and a high-quality product. I don’t love shopping, personally. I want to be able to come to one place, sit down for two hours, and order all my clothes for the season. In a way, I built a store for myself.”

Walk me through.

“Ground floor is all ready-to-wear. I wanted it to feel quite residential; I wanted it to feel like a house. The [Lucio] Fontana is from my own collection; we commissioned Claude Lalanne to make this desk in bronze, and the chair was Lalanne that I already had. So, as a customer, you walk in and you’re greeted by a lovely young lady. You’ll be encouraged to make appointments with your fitter. We’ll be closed to the public in the morning and open only by appointment only from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. We’re open to the public from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and then closed again from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. But if you come in and don’t have an appointment, we will gladly help you. We have butlers that really are butlers and housekeepers that are part of this—it’s run like a house. We don’t do your laundry or pressing, but we have a bar and they’ll get you lunch catered from outside. The private fitting salons, you can stay in there all day. The two fireplaces work, but unfortunately, you can’t light a fire in a retail space.”

And upstairs houses bespoke and made-to-order.

“We have a press office attached upstairs. We have a custom knitwear program to do sleeve lengths and initials on cashmere. We developed our own knitted socks; we can even do hand-knitted socks for you with your initials. We have some that are stuck in customs that have a tattoo of your name and a sort of naked girl posing, which is quite cute. Then we have a shirt room: 340 colors, 35 fabrics, seven different collars, three different cuffs in just ready-to-wear.”

Custom-made packaging caters to each individual Tom Ford locationSo, your goal was to make it somewhat cozy, but still sleek…

“It’s residential in that it matches the lifestyle of our clients and their aspirations. I think the human touch we’ve lost a little bit. I go into stores and I can’t get anyone to help me. I make phone calls and I get voicemail. Those kind of things drive me nuts. Service, for me, is one of the things we’ve lost in the world.”

And beyond the shoe room…

“Yes, here are the fragrances and eyewear. The fragrances were not meant to be mass fragrances; they’re quite pure and meant for connoisseurs. They’re completely developed fragrances; they’re not just one-off notes. Because of the architecture of the bottle, we can do a fragrance for a customer. It can be Eau de John, for example. We’re also launching exclusively this week at Bergdorf Goodman, so we can do a custom retail fragrance. Also stored here are sunglasses and eyewear, and sight glasses. We have an agreement with an optician down the road that if you buy your glasses here, we’ll put your prescription in.”

The Tom Ford labelI’ve noticed your offering of ties is bordering obsessive-compulsive.

“You go to buy ties from some of our competitors and they offer only three ties for each season, whereas we really have every color you could want. We have three different width of ties for ready-to-wear, and up in made-to-order we have seven different widths. We go from Prince Michael of Kent—that’s the size of a fist—to something much, much skinnier.”

Tell me about working with William Sofield on the store.

“One of my favorite periods for classic tailoring has always been the ‘30s and ‘40s, so it seemed right. A lot of my favorite furnishings, for example the Eileen Gray chair upstairs, is from that period. One room on the main level is an exact copy of my living room down to the chairs and the mirror. Richard [Buckley] is not going to be very happy when he sees this! But going back, the ‘70s were about the ‘30s, and a lot of what I did at Gucci was based on the ‘70s, so maybe the ‘30s was the root for all of this. It was an elegant period, and it was right architecturally for this building.”

Let’s talk about the art in your store.

“There’s the Lucio Fontana in the entryway in stainless steel, Claude Lalanne desk and chair in the entrance, urns at the end of one room that are 1925 French, and the [plaster and marble dust] Jean Arp at the base of the staircase is mine from our London house.”

How is your painstaking attention to detail reflected here?

“I designed the lamps here in the store [originally] for my home in L.A., so I copied them for my store. The beaver-fur carpet I have in my house in London. And macassar ebony [lavishly used throughout the store] is one of my all-time favorite materials. The fixtures in the private dressing rooms are made from the same foundry that made Diego Giacometti’s pieces. The walls are perforated suede. It’s really everything personal.

You were once quoted as saying Gucci is horizontal and YSL is vertical. What is Tom Ford?

“I would say there’s certainly a bit of horizontal here as well. I think my own personal taste is very low and lean. I like to be comfortable. It’s hard to sit up straight, but it’s more of a sprawl. I suppose it could be said it’s what I like in everything. I like really luxurious things, but I don’t want them to be stuffy; they should be lived in. I think that that’s probably the sexy and sensual part of my personality, that there’s a relaxed quality to it. People often come to my house and they’re surprised that it’s not cold.”

How are men evolving in their levels of discretion?

“Men becoming smarter about what they want. It’s the same thing for everything happening in the world. You couldn’t buy arugula in Texas when I was a kid; now you can. The more you learn and are exposed, the more you want them—they’re almost fetishized. Functioning button holes start to stand for something more than button holes that don’t. I think there was a time when everyone knew about it; you just would not have worn a button hole that didn’t functioning because all button holes were functioning! In a way, it’s a bit of a throwback to an appreciation of something we haven’t lost.”

And some serious time was put into developing the packaging.

“We have a printer that, when you buy a shirt from us, will print your name out in cursive writing/calligraphy across the box. Each store will have its own labels, and the merchandise will be different in different stores. This store was built in the ‘30s; it’s meant to feel like a men’s club in a sense, a bit of what a Hollywood tailor haberdashery would’ve felt like in the ‘30s. The product will be adopted a little bit based on the market—if you go shopping in Dubai and you come back with a caftan from Dubai, it will say ‘Tom Ford Dubai.’”

Speaking of which, where else are you opening stores? Are you increasing your number of distribution points?

“We’re going to have limited distribution and franchise partners. We have plans for what I call ‘accelerated development’ that we’ll be announcing soon.”

Tell me about your brand’s label.

“I wanted an old-fashioned label. It’s all silk; we’re one of the last people to do that. It’s silk ribbon, cut and folded under, and then hand-tacked. You want to think of something that’s beautiful and connotes the quality of what it’s going on, but at the same time a little bit different, so I placed it beneath my Blackberry pocket, since that’s the pocket I think most people are going to use today, more than even reaching for their wallets.”

And Tom Ford accessories?

“There’ll be everything. Umbrellas, walking sticks, canes, custom eyewear—18-karat gold and ebony, 18-karat gold and palasander. I call them gifts for the man who has everything. Our shoes, starting on average at $1,100 for ready-to-wear, are competitively priced. Our competitors in this category would be Berluti and John Lobb; the shoes take three weeks to make. There are also hats, which are the only things made in England; everything else comes from Italy. It’s really a store I would like to have filled with things I like, so I hope other people like the same things.”

71.jpgDid you approach your upper-echelon price point with any reservations? [Made-to-measure suits start at $5,000; ready-to-wear suits at $3,200; shoes, at $1,100; shirts, at $350; ties, at $165; and socks, at $75.]

“I probably should have. It was really intuitive and cerebral—a combination, because intuitively this is what I’m interested in: the best. And however much that costs is fine as long as the customer can sense and see that it’s the best. But if you look at what’s happening in the world, rich customers are getting richer. Emerging markets are developing quite rapidly. I believe that the high end is the place to be, or the low end. I think those things in the middle are the things that don’t interest me. I wear Levi’s and T-shirts from the Gap, and then if I wear a jacket, I want to wear a beautiful jacket. I don’t really understand that middle level.”

Speaking of which, what’s your take on doing a bridge line? Will there ever be a Tom by Tom Ford line?

“Oh, I just don’t care about that at this moment in my life. I don’t care about that customer. I just don’t care. I care about authenticity. I’m interested in doing the best or I’m interested in doing something that could be broad but good design. And that’s very interesting too. I haven’t done that yet. High design at a price point everyone can afford is very interesting too, because it is the best: it’s the best in term of design that it can be and in term of industrial manufacturing. And then this is the best in terms of handmade and the highest level you can have. That’s fun.”

What would you say to the average Joe who isn’t so versed in fashion and walks by and is intimidated by your store?

“If you’re intimidated and you do care about quality, you should come in. Our service is not intimidating; it may look intimidating, but it will be very warm. Then again, we’re not for everyone. If someone doesn’t appreciate quality and cut and fabric, then we’re probably not the right place for them.”

What should every Tom Ford man own?

“A well cut jacket. Whether it’s a suit—which is how I prefer to wear jackets—or just a well cut jacket. An evening suit is important if you live in New York.”

And the men’s fragrance?

“It will be launched in the fall. I’ve already selected a name, but I can’t talk about it.”

Has Tom Ford Hollywood gone away?

“I have a movie ready to go, so we’ll see. You talk about it, and if it doesn’t happen in six months, then people say you’ve failed.”

What do you want people to step away from your store with?

“Quality. I want them to think, ‘Wow, that is beautifully done. That is a beautiful jacket. The fabric is beautiful; the cut is beautiful; the service was perfect.’”


Tom Ford’s Big Leap

Manhattan Store Puts New Stamp On Luxury

Tom Ford, the sequel, is all about uberluxury, quality and personalized service.

Ford has spent the last 12 months sculpting a brand that is pure and perfect Tom, and he is now ready to unveil his vision with a three-story, 8,680-square-foot boutique opening at 845 Madison Avenue on Thursday.

A model at Tom Ford on MadisonBut just what is Tom Ford about without the setting of a luxury leather goods house or le smoking? From the cast-bronze crocodile reception desk and chair in the entrance to the numerous bespoke ateliers, the butlers and maids roaming the luxurious space and clothing details such as a button-down pants cuff that can be unflapped for a quick brush, Ford is aiming to create a new version of luxury.

He is presenting a complete luxury brand from men’s ready-to-wear, and custom-made tailoring to leather goods and other accessories ? made in a production deal with Ermenegildo Zegna ? as well as eyewear and fragrance. The radical approach to go from zero to 100 miles an hour ? with the exception of beauty and eyewear teasers ? may raise a few eyebrows, but Ford knows a thing or two about building a brand. Plus, to those who know fashion, Tom Ford has long been a de facto brand and always was a factor in his reinventions of Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent.

“This is the new incarnation of it, and the official incarnation,” he said. “I gave a big part of myself to what I did at Gucci and Saint Laurent, and then, when I left, I took that with me. You would walk in here and be able to see certain similarities.”

The William Sofield-created store is largely in shades of burnished pale gray and sable brown, with suede walls, leather furniture, beaver rugs, macassar ebony fixtures and art pieces, some of which come from Ford’s own homes and others that have been newly commissioned for the space. Ford said he has been thinking about the importance of service ever since he left Gucci Group in 2004.

“I didn’t know what to wear,” the designer recalled. “I spent time shopping and I thought there’s nothing out there that is right for me. Everything was too trendy, and the quality wasn’t great, so I went to a Savile Row tailor, which is a very dry experience. You go into a little room, and they yank a little curtain and you sit on a little stool. There’s no romance that goes into it.”

Romance is a surprising buzzword for Ford, who legitimized the idea of a quick romp for the sake of fashion in the late Nineties, sometimes accentuated with gimmicks such as logo pubic hair and penis necklaces. In his new venture, Ford now wishes to purvey longevity and quality in an old-world manner ? or at least in the way he thinks the old world was.

“Where would Cary Grant shop if he were alive today?” Ford said.

The store’s interior is inspired by Tom Ford’s homes.When it’s pointed out that another famous designer has long used the film icon as a source of inspiration, Ford continued: “I think Ralph [Lauren] does a brilliant job, but it’s very preppy, it’s very American. I find Cary’s taste was a little more European.”

That said, he shied away from naming specific competitors. But Ford, never one to lack in self-confidence, is convinced his empire will reverberate not just through men’s wear, but also the retail landscape in New York.

“I think we’re going to be luring people from several different competitors,” he said. “Some will have had their own tailors, some might have been shopping at the top end of Ralph or Armani, others might have been shopping even at Brioni and others might be new customers. I hate to make this sound like I’m stealing everyone’s customers. I’m not necessarily, but we all are fishing in the same pond. I have tremendous respect for Giorgio and Ralph. I sent Mr. Armani a letter not so long ago, saying, ‘You know, you’re one of the reasons I’m in fashion,’ because in the late Seventies and early Eighties, for me he was just ‘It.’ He could do no wrong, and I was just constantly amazed by the perfection of everything he did.”

Now, Ford is putting his own spin on perfectionism, and he is taking the route of classic tailoring to do so.

“That’s what I want after having designed very trendy collections for a certain period of time,” he said. “I really want just beautiful quality, beautiful fabrics and beautiful cuts, and then I want to shop in an environment that is very service geared.”

For instance, the boutique will open by appointment from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m., then open to the public from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and revert again to an appointment-only basis until 7 p.m. Salespeople will be on hand to take care of a client’s every whim ? for the opening, he even flew in his personal butler, Angus Richards-Barron, to train the store’s butler ? and there will be maids for such tasks as fluffing the cushions and wiping off the dust.

“I want someone to say, ‘Hello’ when you walk in. I want someone to call you sir, or, if they know your name, Mr., or Ms., or Mrs. I want them to get you a Diet Coke if that is what you want,” Ford said. “I want them to be nice to you with a smile, and I want them to be knowledgeable about the product and to be able to tell you about it, or if you don’t want to listen to them, to not tell you about it.

“I like it when someone calls me sir, or Mr. Ford,” he added. “Maybe I’ve been living in England too long.”

Entering the store, clients will come across a woman behind a Claude Lalanne gold crocodile reception desk and chair. Lalanne made the desk for the store, though the chair came from Ford’s London house. The chair contrasts with the off-white Lucio Fontana art piece on the wall, a nod to the sexual provocation that has become a trademark. In true Fontana-style, it is a slashed canvas that could be interpreted as female genitalia. “I leave the reference that this store is built around to you,” Ford offered.

The main-floor ready-to-wear suiting room feels like a lounge, with sconces made by the family that Diego Giacommetti used for his sculptures, macassa wood and gray walls, and furniture pieces such as a beaver-fur rug, a pair of neoclassical Gustavian chairs, two 1925 Art Deco urns and a Chinese Chippendale mirror from Ford’s own collection.

The store’s interior is inspired by Tom Ford’s homes.“The downstairs room is a copy of our house in London,” Ford said. “Richard [Buckley, his partner] is not going to be very happy when he sees it. I even took some pieces out of it. I just shipped them over. You have to really look into yourself and think, ‘What is it that I like? What am I am about?’ and then try to make it mean something.”

Prices are still being finalized, but rtw suits will start at $3,000 and bespoke suits will start at $5,000.

To the right of the entry hall are rooms offering shirting, shoes, luggage, knitwear, initialized socks and outerwear. Ford offers 350 shirt colors in 35 fabric variations, seven different types of collars and five different cuffs. There also are shooting and riding clothes and tennis shorts.

Accessories include crocodile weekenders, attache cases, luggage, golf bags and eyewear. Ford is also offering a full jewelry collection, with 18-karat gold cuff links, cowgirl money clips, tie bars and bracelets.

The piece de resistance could be the octagonal marble and mercury mirror perfumery room, where customers can buy a fragrance or order their custom-made blends.

Upstairs, there are three private fitting salons for made-to-order sales, as well as a wide assortment of ties, with three different widths in rtw and seven in made-to-order. The bespoke ateliers boast two tailors and five seamstresses.

“It is a different time now,” he continued. “This is where I am now. I am 45 years old, not 33, as I was at Gucci. We are living in an era where we have gone through all this disposable fashion, so what I am craving now is really something chic.”

The Ford man, he said, is “probably anywhere from someone who’s 28 and leads a very, very, in a sense, spoiled life, to someone who is 75 and loves clothes and beautiful tailoring, and maybe even remembers when a lot of things were maybe more like this.”

Ford thinks that he will offer bespoke suits to women in about six months, but he is in no hurry to offer a full-blown women’s collection. “I wouldn’t just let a woman come in and have a man’s suit made. I’ll make special blocks for women so that they fit you perfectly,” he said. “There are certain wonderful things about women’s wear that I do miss, actually. It’s fun to work with all those materials.”

He chose New York as the launchpad for a simple reason ? he couldn’t find the right space on Bond Street in London first.

All of a sudden I was walking up Madison Avenue one day, and I saw this was vacant and I immediately got on the phone. It’s the perfect location.”

Other potential deals that could see his name on storefronts all over the world, including emerging markets such as the Far East, are already in the works. Ford said an announcement on major expansion should be made within a few weeks.

In addition, senior brass from Bergdorf Goodman, including chief executive officer Jim Gold, were already checking out the wares on Monday morning, but Ford declined to provide specifics on any potential deal he could be striking with the retailer. That said, he disclosed his collection will be wholesaled very selectively in upscale specialty stores, and indicated it would involve in-store concepts. “It’s not like we would just put pieces on a rack,” he said.

The store’s interior is inspired by Tom Ford’s homes.Ford declined to disclose sales projections ? “Luckily, we’re a private company so I don’t have to talk about it, so we’re not going to,” he quipped ? but he is convinced the concept will be profitable.

“As fun as all this is, I wouldn’t be doing it if it weren’t potentially profitable, and that’s the ultimate goal of any business, to make money,” Ford said. “I’ve spent a lot of time analyzing our business plan and putting it together, and I hope I’m going to make a lot of money with fewer customers, but customers with deeper pockets who spend more. We’re going after the guy who buys 20 custom-made suits a year. We also have a lot of things that someone could walk right in off the street and buy, like a $365 bottle of perfume, $75 socks, $350 shirts.”

Ford plans to kick off a full creative advertising campaign this fall, but he wouldn’t give any details and declined to disclose whether he would star in the ads himself. “No comment,” he said. “But you can always hire somebody better looking than yourself.”

By Marc Karimzadeh, Photo by Pasha Antonov


Sneak Peek: In New Store, Tom Ford Loves Beaver

New store of Tom FordThe first-ever Tom Ford store at Madison Avenue and 70th Street, set to open Thursday, is a sprawling, two-story, 10,000-square-foot uber-bachelor pad and the flagship for his new collection of men’s clothing, a collaboration with Ermenegildo Zegna (even if only Ford’s name appears on it.). Early this afternoon, Ford, dressed in a three-piece suit and pocket square, gave a private tour to select reporters. Cathy Horyn and Eric Wilson from the Times were both there; so was Time Style & Design editor Kate Betts, a former Harper’s Bazaar chief. The place is quintessential Ford, dripping with sex. There are beaver rugs throughout — wink, wink — and a giant metalwork sculpture in the foyer that’s also very beaverlike. The place is designed to look like and feel like a fancy residence — there are butlers and housekeepers (dressed in traditional uniform) who circulate. There’s a hidden elevator with upholstered walls, fireplaces, a bar and, you guessed it, smoking jackets. Except Ford calls them dressing gowns. They’re patterned silk and cost a cool $3,900.