Tom Ford says these tumultuous times pointed him in the opposite direction at New York Fashion Week on February 6 with a collection of gentle, non-aggressive elegance done in simple silhouettes, with some Los Angeles-inspired pops of colour.
There was a distinctive 70s vibe in fake-fur fedoras with wide brims and fluffy oversized coats. For evening, he did long silk jersey body-skimming dresses adorned with chains of pale pink and lilac that framed shoulders and backs. The links were the only adornment.
Make no mistake: The classic Ford attention to detail was on display, as was a certain swagger. Some of the autumn-winter looks were lined and faced in silk with hand-done detailing for his usual touch of luxury.
Since decamping from London to Los Angeles nearly two years ago, Ford yet again has embraced colour, but this time around it came mostly in faded shades of pale blue, dove grey, plum, caramel, pink and rich browns and deep burgundy.
“My acceptance of certain colours has changed,” he said in an interview backstage after the show.
Ford also had the 18th century’s use of colour on his mind, along with the touch of American designer Charles James. His clash of reds and pinks evoked the work of Yves St Laurent, a house where he once served as creative director.
On the opening day of women’s week, Ford said today’s political climate definitely influenced the clothes.
“I feel agitated and upset, and I think clothing right now should be non-aggressive. And that sounds strange coming from me because often I have done somewhat aggressive, hard clothes. I wanted it to just be beautiful,” he said.
Ford certainly referenced his own design roots, having made a reputation at Gucci with pants and shirts (skinny, tailored trousers with tailored jackets), white dresses in jersey and velvet suits.
“That’s because that’s who I am. That’s what I like,” Ford said. “At a certain point you get to a certain age and you say, well this is just my style. This is what I like. And this is what I should do.”
Ford designs for specific, grown-up clients, ladies and men of luxury and elegance, with a little peacock thrown in. They may like all things fur and leather but Ford stuck to his pledge to take care with those materials, sticking to food byproducts in shearling pieces and leather suits for men.
He remains torn by the fake fur versus real fur debate, detailing biodegradability rates and how many years each item remains in circulation before it’s tossed.
“I’m quite torn by it,” Ford said. “Real fur biodegrades in six months. Fake fur pollutes the environment to manufacture and doesn’t biodegrade for hundreds of years, so I don’t know.”
And what of those big hats, some in gold and silver? He doesn’t do hats often.
“I’ve been spending more time in New York, secretly, and when you’re in New York in the winter you actually think OK, it’s raining or it’s snowing or it’s really cold, I can totally see a hat on the street,” he said. “In today’s world, they sort of don’t make sense.”
Just don’t call these hats fit for a 70s pimp (Ford’s soundtrack included the Bee Gees disco standard ‘Stayin’ Alive’). He was going more for Diana Ross in the 1976 film ‘Mahogany’ and Beyonce in ‘Dream Girls.’
In business for 35 years, with 35 years of influences rolling around in his brain, Ford says it’s hard to say.
“I like a wide brim,” he said. “You build a file cabinet, a hard drive, of images and things and then when you’re designing you pull from them, and then later you can’t necessarily say where it came from because it just becomes past references.”