Tom Ford knows how to give a good interview. Whether he is diving into his past, discussing all things provocative, or simply critiquing the fashion world, the designer is nothing if not candid. Here are some highlights from his time as the high priest at the church of Gucci, where he was at the helm from 1994 to 2004.
“I was born in a jacket. I was the only 3-year-old who walked around with a blazer folded over his arm. I was very particular and very difficult, and I would only wear certain shoes. When my mother would go out, I would move the furniture and rearrange the living room. I just wanted to redecorate the world.”
“Often I get the question ‘Why do you put makeup on guys? Are they trying to be more feminine?’ or ‘Why are you showing masculine suits on women?’ I hate those two words, feminine and masculine. I mean what are they? Why is a suit masculine and not feminine? And why is eye makeup feminine and not masculine? It’s so stupid. We’re just people. The guy has eye makeup on so he’s more beautiful.”
“[The ads are] too sexy for the public. You can’t show two people fucking. We’ll have to reshoot.”
”The truth is, Americans are afraid of style. We are descended from Puritans, and it is still in our culture. You can put an American woman and a French woman in the same clothes, and the French woman will just look different. The French woman’s hair will, perhaps, not be as clean. She’ll tie her scarf in a different way. She’ll stand differently. But she’ll look chic. The American woman will be too clean. That’s the Puritanical strain. And too clean is not sexy.
”I don’t want to sound callous, but if you don’t want to let the terrorists defeat us, have that extra piece of cake and third drink. All of us feel a sense of transformation, but into what, I’m not sure. Would you buy a big car right now? I doubt it. But it’s hard to judge how far and how long this mood will linger. People want to be soothed. And when words fail, I think beauty can fill the void. Anything with edge feels wrong right now, but I doubt that will last. The fashion world thrives on irony and bitchiness and meanness. This attack is making people sincere. I’m not sure that will be good for fashion.”
On his goth tractor: “I said to the foreman, ‘Can’t I have a black one?’ And he said, ‘Mr. Ford, they don’t make ‘em in black.’ So then we had it resprayed … I know! It’s silly, though I really do care … though on the other hand why shouldn’t I have a black tractor if I can have one?”
Harper’s Bazaar, 2004
On the difference between his visions for Gucci and YSL: “They may both be beautiful and they may both be roughly the same age and they may both have money and they may both be sexually available. But the Gucci woman is sweeter, more naïve. She may be like, ‘You’re a great guy, let’s fuck.’ The Saint Laurent woman is more twisted, more perverse. She is going to tie you up and slap you around before she finally lets you have sex with her. And a lot of that doesn’t come so much from Yves, it comes from all those provocative Helmut Newton pictures of YSL clothes from the ‘70s.”
“Gucci used to dress all the stars and celebrities, and I thought this is what today’s movie stars and celebrities should be wearing. Quite honestly, if I’d been doing a Tom Ford collection, this is what I would have done. It was about hedonism. Sexy, sensual, fuck-me clothes.”
“What’s wrong with sluts? I remember being like 11 and seeing the series I, Claudius on Masterpiece Theatre, which we watched as a family every Sunday. And I remember Claudius’s wife, Messalina, I believe, had a fuck-off with the most famous prostitute in Rome. And basically she made a fool of the whores by fucking more … She actually outfucked whoever the most famous prostitute in Rome at the time was. And I remember thinking, Wow! If I were a woman, I would have done that. Because how great to do that. If sluttiness is what you like, what’s wrong with that? Why do we think being a slut’s bad? Sluttiness is just a lot of freedom.
“I like everybody with a touch of dirty. I mean, I’m not saying I want to go between someone’s legs and find flies buzzing around there … It should be clean. But we’ve gotten silly about this. There’s nothing worse than kissing somebody, or hugging somebody, or going under their arm and smelling deodorant and like Lifebuoy soap. The smell of a body is a great thing.”