Tom Ford can’t help but do Tom Ford. His clients, too, expect him to be himself. Is this season then a good Tom Ford?
Tom Ford has gone underground. But let’s not think of what that would usually suggest. Mr Ford has always been an atas kind of guy; he always projects an uptown vibe even when he tries downtown cool, stays on top of the game than slips to below par. Which means that even when his latest show during New York Fashion Week (NYFW) is staged in a disused New York subway station, you shouldn’t expect a post-design school moment, or a stride with the subversive. This is not homage to the homeless.
He-who-revived-Gucci-in-the-’90s is a devotee of glamour, not grit. Silk satin speaks louder than cotton twill! Sure, he pairs a satin jacket with shorts—basketball shorts(!), but that is no indication of edge—pluck maybe. And, in just-as-shiny fabrics are jumpsuits, which one suspects is for boogieing on down to somewhere fun than (even) to wear to facilitate the transaction of exorbitant art. The potential verve and irregularity that a location such as this may offer is not exploited. Rather, one senses that the celeb-centric clothes are conceived to be mostly worn to dance clubs, such as former New York landmark, the subterranean passage-like The Tunnel.
What’s interesting to us is that this time, Mr Ford is leading the pack, so to speak, in the much-talked-about re-making of NYFW. He started in June as the new chairman of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), and, as an important first move, shortened the duration of NYFW and, subsequently, initiated what the media has described as “experiential events”, which, from what we have seen online, exclude Mr Ford’s own show. Now that he is wearing two hats, it is not unreasonable to assume that he would want (a slowly fading) NYFW and his namesake presentation to make a significant mark.
However, venue alone—lit purple (liturgical colour?)—is not quite enough to cast the Tom Ford collection in a different light. There is no doubt that the designer courts a particular customer, man or woman. And that these people wear a certain category of clothing that do not include what most of us don to work and even play. These are clothes with an attitude tethered to sexiness and sundown, and society. Mr Ford can’t resist the halter neck, the bra-top, and the slinky dress even if he still offers sharp blazers, and the odd dress with slim skirt, which could be there to keep the collection within the now less important parameters of realness.
Mr Ford is disposed to homages too. Consistently, he has showed, through his designs, a deep fascination with Halston, even reportedly bought the latter’s famous apartment in the Upper East Side, New York, designed by American architect Paul Rudolph, whose interior design for the Halston House Mr Ford called “one of the great American interiors”, as told to WWD. It is surprising that no one at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art thought of a second Impossible Conversations, this time between Halston and Tom Ford.
This season, however, rather than influence coming from the man associated with disco and Ultrasuede, we see one that can be linked to Issey Miyake, specifically a fibreglass bustier top, first seen in Mr Miyake’s autumn/winter collection shown in Paris in 1980. Mr Ford’s versions—two of them—are shaped differently, and could be made of other material since we are not yet able to determine what is used, but that they immediately bring to mind a very specific garment from the past is hard to overlook. Even with new stewardship, this, as we see it, is American fashion: a bit of theirs, a bit of others.
Photos: (top/main) Tom Ford, (runway) Vogue,com/Alessandro Lucioni/Gorunway.com