Tom Ford: The man behind the brand

First store of Tom FordDesigner, Tom Ford is one of the most talked about men in fashion. He is considered a showman by some and the appetite for information about his personal life and business ventures is seemingly endless. But, underneath it all, he claims he is quite shy. Monita Rajpal talks to him in an exclusive interview at his London home.

Monita Rajpal (MR): How do you define a luxury brand in this day and age?

Tom Ford (TF): Most brands that are called luxury brands today are not true luxury brands. In the 90s, at Gucci we made luxury quite accessible. The globalization of fashion and luxury means you now find the same luxury brands in every city. The stores look the same, the products are the same. It is still a very good quality product but it is now readily available to everyone. It’s a kind of mass luxury.

What I am trying to do at this stage in my life and at this stage in my business, is bring back the notion of true luxury which is really creating the very best thing you can possibly have.

MR: Do you feel you can do that because you are now your own boss?

TF: That’s certainly part of it. In starting something that’s never been done before, if I had shareholders I’d have to defend myself because this is not the normal way to build a company. But I have always acted with a combination of a cerebral insight and intuitive feeling. Intuition, if you are fashion designer is really the key to everything. I just really have a feeling it’s the right moment in time to create a new business model. Obviously I have facts and figures that could back that up. It isn’t a gamble; it’s a calculated risk.

MR: You are very interested in emerging markets: Asia, the Middle East. But these are also markets that are interested in mass luxury. How do you combine the two?

TF: In any society, you have different strata of individuals and different levels of wealth. Of course, as the entire population steps up to a new level of wealth they need accessible luxury, mass luxury. At the same time, these markets have made the most dramatic creation of wealth possibly the world has ever seen, and those individuals want the best money can buy.

Most of these emerging markets are cultures that have been quite materialistic at a certain time in their history. Chinese culture for example has been denied materialism for eighty years or more. So they are hungry for this. These are also patriarchal societies where the moment a man makes money the first he does is dress himself and then worry about dressing his wife, his girlfriend, his children. So, luxury men’s wear happening at the same time that there’s this enormous wealth creation all over the world in emerging markets, and in existing markets is, I think, the right concept at the right time.

MR: Do you feel you don’t have to compete?

TF: I feel I don’t have to compete in certain ways. I am also at a stage in my life where I want to only do thing that I love. I only want to do things that make me happy. Making money is important, but it’s not my ultimate driver.

MR: How did you get to this point?

TF: A lot of hard work, twenty years in the fashion business, and I suppose, a lot of soul searching, and while I am only forty five I do feel I have a good sense of who I am, what I like, what I’m good at, a sense of what I can contribute and what makes me happy. So, with that comes a certain security and that also gives you a certain strength.

MR: What is it about that success factor that you are able to not only be in tune with business but actually direct the timing of it?

TF: Figuring out what’s right for now is, as I said earlier, a combination of intuition and honestly, it’s mostly only intuition. A design business is inherently dependent upon the intuition of its chief designer. Luckily I have a track record that if you show me five pairs of shoes I will almost always pick the one pair that will sell the best. It’s just a gift I have for mass taste – a link with what people want in a certain moment in time.

MR: Describe for me the difference between Tom Ford, the man and Tom Ford, the product.

TF: Tom Ford, the product is very confident, very strong. Tom Ford, the man is also those things, but Tom Ford the man is also very shy. No one ever really believes that about me. Being public for me is a performance. That doesn’t mean it’s not genuine, but I have to get my head into place and I have to perform and I have to be Tom Ford, the product.

MR: What was your life like when the decision was made to leave Gucci?

TF: It was terrible. I think it came at a time in my life when I was possibly due a mid-life crisis anyway. I worked so hard all my life to get to a certain point. There’s a wonderful quote that says a mid life crisis is when you get to the top of the ladder only to find out that it’s against the wrong wall. So, perhaps some of my priorities weren’t in the right place. But, I took a little bit of time and cleared my head. Even though I didn’t want to leave Gucci at that time and it was quite traumatic for me, I tried to learn something from it. The thing I learnt was that I never ever in my life want to retire.

Source: Photo: Edside

Tom Ford and the Smell of Success

Tom FordLet’s catch up with Tom Ford.

The iconic, Texas born designer—as famous for his revival of Gucci and Yves St. Laurent as he is for his one man campaign to bring chest hair back into the gay aesthetic—is the subject of several new essays that crossed the transom. The first is by Nick Burns over at’s Stylelist, who profiled Ford as part of his new series of fashion’s sexiest designers. Ford has been quite busy since leaving Gucci and YSL …

Three years later, after some dabbling in magazine publishing and ideas of film making, the hairy-chested cowboy returned to fashion little by little—beginning with reformulation and marketing work on a staid Estee Lauder perfume Estee Lauder Tom Ford Azuree Soleil The Body Oil Spray for Women 100ml/3.4oz, then a collection of eyewear. This year, Ford exploded onto the fashion scene again with an eponymous high-end, made-to-measure and ready to wear menswear collection, sunglasses, a signature line of fragrances—immortalized with Ford’s description that they “smell like the sweat on a man’s balls”—and opened a flagship store in New York City.

Ford and his man-sweat also make the front page of today’s New York Times.

For some years, custom-brewed fragrances have become de rigeur for the modern gay man. That trend has been adopted by 20-something urban men whom fashion marketers call “Generation Axe” because they have “been bombarded by the overtly sexual ads for Axe body sprays [and] do not think that wearing fragrance is somehow unmanly… Free from qualms about wearing fragrance, and free from qualms about whether a fragrance smells masculine, those young men are subtly altering the men’s fragrance head space, a move that can be seen as readily at Wal-Mart as at Barneys New York.”

NEW BLACK ORCHID 50ml. by TOM FORD BRAND NEW IN BOXThe reporters note “Tom Ford’s complex (and pricey) fragrances are among the hottest sellers” in this field, especially at high-end department stores such as Bergdorf Goodman.

Obviously, Ford and his fragrance have received major traction from the rather un-artful description—”like the sweat on a man’s balls.” Thankfully, the Times report does not include any scratch-n-sniff cards.

Source: , Photo: Getty Images

Tom Ford and 100 Sexiest Men

Tom Ford naked on bed

1. Jake Gyllenhaal

2. Chris Evans

3. Daniel Craig

4. Gale Harold

5. Taye Diggs

6. Ryan Reynolds

7. Hugh Jackman

8. T.R. Knight

9. Ryan Phillipe

10. John Barrowman

19. Justin Timberlake

39. David Beckham

93. Tom Ford


Perfume Review: Tom Ford

Perfume Review: Tom Ford Private Blend Noir de Noir, Oud Wood, Purple Patchouli

Noir de Noir

In an interview to International Herald Tribune, Tom Ford once said that he have always loved the night. The nocturnal Black Orchid was the first olfactory expression of that love and many scents in the Private Blend collection most definitely possess a nocturnal quality. Noir de Noir, as the name suggests, has a very dark feel. When I first heard about the Private Blend collection and got to read the notes, I had a feeling that Purple Patchouli might turn out to be reminiscent of my beloved Black Orchid, or rather that it will be reminiscent of the earthy, raw aspect of it, which I love so much and which is so prominent on my skin. Not so. The scent that, upon very first application, made me think of Black Orchid, was Noir de Noir. Take Black Orchid, remove the “earth” and the fruits, and what you are left with is an elegantly sweet, rather warm floral accord. As far as my nose is concerned, Noir de Noir is built upon that very accord. The beginning of the scent is a bouquet of dark-red roses, honeyed, over-ripe, extremely luscious. The rose note is paired with saffron, a stunning combination, with the golden, slightly raw spiciness weaved through the crimson velvet of the petals. The raw/rooty aspect, which I always notice in saffron, is complimented by “black truffle” and patchouli. I don’t really smell any oud in Noir de Noir, and overall I think I would have liked the scent even more if the woody-earthy aspect was a little stronger on my skin. Noir de Noir is not a shy little scent, it is quite forceful, sweet and with a luxurious trail of sillage. The drydown is incredibly delightful. The saffron note, which disappears during the middle stage, comes back, and the final accord is a soft skin scent composed of delicate spices, gentle vanilla, and a little bit of patchouli. It is my humble guess that Noir de Noir is going to be one of most popular Private Blend fragrances.

Oud Wood

Leathery Oud. I am aware that Tom Ford Beauty does not list leather as one of the notes in this scent, but leather is what I smell as soon as I apply it on my skin and the note stays throughout the scent’s development. The perfume really isn’t so much about oud as it is about veriver and leather. It is an elegantly smoky blend, quite dry and very earthy. It has slight spiciness in the beginning and quite a lot of rather sharp sandalwood in the middle and in the base. The drydown is softer that the previous stages, but despite declared vanilla and tonka bean, is really not in the least sweet. I like Oud Wood a lot, but feel that it could have been a little more virile, had a little more character. This is a very refined and urbane rendition of oud, and I guess I was looking for something more wild and fierce.

Purple Patchouli

oud-wood.jpgPurple Patchouli is probably the strangest of the twelve Private Blend scents, and I am not quite sure that in this case I mean “strange” as a compliment. With notes of orchid, citruses, “noir leather”, “purple patchouli”, exotic spices, amber, more patchouli, Peru balsam and vetiver, the composition is a curious combination of fresh, almost soapy and utterly skanky-animalic. I had a “pleasure” of experiencing a molecule called saladolide, which featured the most bizarre clash of aggressively clean and rather putrid odors. Purple Patchouli doesn’t actually smell like that molecule, but the disharmony of clean and animalic that it presents is just as striking. The floral accord of Purple Patchouli is sudsy and quite bold, slightly sweet, rather fresh, it keeps battling for domination with the dry patchouli note and the salty, “moist” leather. In the end, patchouli and leather win, aided by a little bit of vetiver; the drydown of Purple Patchouli on my skin is the stage of total skank, no more flowers, no more soap, just a clammy , slimy, morbidly fascinating earthy accord. I am glad I got to try this peculiar perfume, but I will never be able to wear it.

Noir de Noir, Oud Wood, Purple Patchouli are available at Bergdorf Goodman, $165.00 for 50ml, $450.00 for 250ml.

By: Colombina, Source:

Tom Ford and Ron Radziner

 Tom Ford and Ron Radziner

Interview with Tom Ford and Ron Radziner.

In this month’s issue of Wallpaper*, our favourite fashion icons choose an architect that inspires them or their work. To accompany this portfolio, over the next 10 days will feature 10 exclusive interviews with the designers and their architects of choice.

Wallpaper*: How can architecture help sell fashion?

Tom Ford: I think of my stores as being stage sets, so it is important that the architecture doesn’t overshadow the fashion. So the feel of the space is more important than the actual lines. In a store you should only notice the volume of the space. Although, personally, I like to live with challenging architecture, the same approach isn’t necessarily right for my stores. To be honest, great architects aren’t necessarily great decorators.

W*: Do you have a favourite building?

TF: My absolute favourite architect is Mies van der Rohe. Although I have never been there, I love the Tugendhat House in Brno in the Czech Republic and I have pored over pictures of it so many times. And, of course, I love the Farnsworth House, too.

W*: What sort of architecture do you think reflects your aesthetic?

TF: Again, Mies van der Rohe. With Mies, God was in the detail. I find the idea of chromed I-beams in the Tugendhat House so simple but so luxe. Refined minimalism – this is what excites me as a designer.

W*: What were your reasons for selecting Ron Radziner?

TF: I first got in contact with Ron after having visited the Kaufmann House in Palm Springs. I was so impressed by the refurbishment that I called him up and subsequently met up with him in LA to discuss working on my Richard Neutra house together. We worked on the theme of refined minimalism. Obviously the standards of construction in the 1950s were not exactly great, so we bumped up the quality of the materials used and the finishes. So, for example, where Neutra had specified pale blond wood in the original drawings, we replicated it in walnut.

W*: Have you done any other projects together?

TF: We are now working on our fourth house – though we have never worked on a store together. We make a good team. I always think the best results come from a strong architect working with a strong client. And I am a strong client!

W*: What is your favorite city and why?

TF: I have so many favourites, but I have to say I think the residential architecture in Los Angeles is wonderful. There is nowhere else quite like it, with the work of architects as diverse as Greene & Greene, Rudolf Schindler and Frank Gehry. People had the money and they built their fantasies. Another city I adore is Santa Fe, New Mexico, where I am in the process of building a house. The city has this amazing architectural unity thanks to its pueblo adobe style of construction.

W*: How difficult is it to combine your vision with that of someone whose vision may be equally strong?

Ron Radziner: In theory, it could be difficult if you worked with someone with a particularly different view of design, but Tom and I work well together because we see space in a similar way. It’s wonderful when you’re working with someone with a very strong visual sense. They can easily and quickly understand the design concept, so we can have an open, honest conversation about various aspects of the design. If someone doesn’t have that visual sensibility, you end up spending a lot of time explaining.

W*: Has this house build been a memorable event?

RR: We have worked on five residences for Tom, and each has been memorable. It has been wonderful to work with a client that shares a deep interest in the total design. We’ve been able to develop a strong architectural vision and see it through, down to the last detail of a door knob. There’s a huge challenge in taking a design vision down to that level of detail, but in the end it has a tremendous effect on the experience of the space.


Tom Ford’s Style Rules

Gleamed from Esquire Magazine, August 2007 edition.

Tom Ford’s Style Rules:

  • Be confident.
  • Button your jacket. It takes 20 pounds off your silhouette.
  • Never button more than one button on a jacket.
  • Know yourself and know what you like. That’ll be your signature.
  • Americans have grown too accustomed to being comfortable.
  • I find a different kind of comfort when I know I look good.
  • You can’t were trendy clothes forever. Everyone has to grown up sometime.


Tomo Ford celebrated Valentino’s 45th anniversary

0000656616.jpgUma Thurman and Sarah Jessica Parker joined Giorgio Armani, Karl Lagerfeld, Donatella Versace and Tom Ford at Valentino’s 45th anniversary haute couture fashion show in Rome. Mick Jagger, Sienna Miller and Maggie Cheung were also in Rome to join the after-party in Rome’s Villa Borghese.

The catwalk spectacular drew on symbols of Italian “dolce vita”, including opera, glamorous gowns and gelato.

Valentino, who dressed Audrey Hepburn and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in the 1960s, is devoted to glamour and elegance.

His trademark elegant evening gowns in lipstick red or snow white have graced many red carpets


Tom Ford serves BBQ in Milan

Olivier Lalanne, Tom Ford, and Carine Roitfeld at the Tom Ford for Men fragrance launchTom Ford hosted a dinner party last Monday during Milan Men’s Fashion Week—on the same night Frida Giannini presented her Gucci Spring 2008 collection mind you—to celebrate his first signature men’s fragrance, Tom Ford for Men; the dinner at a private palazzo was held outdoors in a garden where Ford served barbeque from his home state of Texas for several hundred of his closest friends while DJ Coleman spun tunes…