Last April, after a highly publicized power struggle over creative control at Gucci, Tom Ford, the company’s creative director, left the Milan fashion house and headed to Hollywood. Ford, 43, who is credited with overhauling the once-stale Italian luxury line, has now turned his focus to the big screen. With three movie projects underway and a 416-page photographic retrospective on his Gucci tenure, Tom Ford (Rizzoli), hitting bookstores this month, Ford talked to FORTUNE’s Julie Schlosser about his new movies, ex-rival Bernard Arnault, and spending other people’s money.
Tell us about your new book.
After I left Gucci, it became a very personal statement about what I felt were my contributions to the world of fashion. It was quite cathartic for me to be able to go through all of the imagery and put the book together. It also enabled me to say goodbye to it and package it up into a nice, neat box.
Did you go to the fashion shows this fall?
Absolutely not. No way. Leaving Gucci was a very hard thing for me. It was really like a death or a divorce, and right now I am concentrating on my future, and it would not have been productive for me psychologically to have gone to fashion shows.
Is this a total break or an intermission from fashion?
Honestly, when I left Gucci, I thought it would be a total break, but I think I was so exhausted and stressed by the entire process that I wasn’t thinking clearly. I love having a voice in contemporary culture and contributing to the visual look of the world at a moment in time. And I miss it.
What can you tell us about the three Hollywood projects you have underway?
One is a period piece. One is a contemporary piece I’ve been writing myself with a screenwriter. The third is a film from the 1930s and was a play in the 1920s, and I am trying to get the rights to that.
How much of your own money are you spending?
Ha, ha, ha. You are going for the jugular. Have you never heard the line “other people’s money”?
Does that mean none of your money?
I didn’t say none, but I am going to reserve comment, other than to say that I am providing the expertise.
Who do you think are the best designers today?
God, usually I don’t talk about other fashion designers–period. But I have to say that I think Karl Lagerfeld is terrific. He is not necessarily a young man, but he has kept a very young mind.
Lagerfeld recently announced a line for Swedish retailer H&M. What do you think of this high/low trend?
I think going with H&M is a great thing. I wear T-shirts from Hanes, and I also wear custom-made clothes. People today do dress in these two extremes.
I read that you’ve been lunching with your former rival, LVMH’s Bernard Arnault in Paris.
I have had a few lunches with him. Since I left Gucci, we have become fairly friendly. We were never personal enemies, but we were certainly business adversaries.
Any chance you’d ever team up with him?
Never say “never” to anything.
What about Domenico De Sole, your old boss–the former head of Gucci?
Well, if I ever do go back to fashion, I really would only do it with Domenico. That doesn’t mean that Domenico and I both might not work for Mr. Arnault.
What do you think is next for the fashion world?
I think the formula that we were part of creating is becoming tired. Buy an old brand, clean it up, have a fashion show, get celebrities in the clothes, take pictures…. It is feeling a bit formulaic. I think it is time for a change. If I were still at Gucci or Saint Laurent, I would be struggling or working as hard as I could right now to figure out what that change would be.
Source: FORTUNE Magazine