It’s rare that we get a true insight into the psyche of figures in the spotlight, especially men like Tom Ford. Always sleek, composed and immaculate, the charismatic designer who, as creative director, turned around Italian fashion house Gucci, has opened up to W magazine in a revealing interview that betrays a vulnerability not usually seen from him. And, according to Tom, this composed exterior is completely intentional.
'I have a very dark side, a side that has struggled a lot with depression, and I’ve never been one who showed that to the outside world. I think when you say to someone, "Good morning. How are you?" they should say, "Great, terrific," because everyone struggles in life. The Yves Saint Laurent thing used to drive me nuts – his depressions, his alcoholism, his whatever. Most people have a lot of problems. You can define yourself by them, or you can realize that everyone is going through what you’re going through and you make the best of it and you get on with your life and you don’t necessarily inflict that, because others probably have that too. They’re just not inflicting it on you.'
And one of the triggers of this depression seems to have been his parting of ways with Gucci in 2004. On the move, Tom says,
'Leaving Gucci, it intensified because I had been able to cling to my job and to my work and to my identity as a successful fashion designer, and all of a sudden that was gone. It forced me to really think, well, what am I, who am I, what am I about? It took me a bit of time to figure that out. I think this happens to most people in their life if they’re insightful enough to indulge it and to get through to the other side.'
It’s fascinating to see behind the public image Tom presents, especially as he's known for being so private yet can easily work the red carpet. His explanation of the lead character in The Single Man is again especially telling...
'George, who is very much my own character grafted on to the character, obsessively puts himself together because that is the way he holds himself together. His inner world and his outer world are connected, and the only thing holding them together is the polishing of his shoes, the scrubbing of his fingernails, the perfect white shirt. If he let go of that, he would collapse. There is an enormous part of myself that is like that.'
The idea of an immaculate image being the thing that holds George (and Tom it would seem…) together is intriguing and shows a very different man who was previously King of Fashion. So, what does this mean for his upcoming projects? With a womenswear line in the pipeline (um, have we mentioned how excited about this we are?) are we going to see a humbler style of clothing from this new, more sensitive Mr Ford, rather than his slick, hard-edged designs at Gucci and YSL?
Maybe this will answer that question: 'Just because I’ve become spiritual doesn’t mean I can’t love crocodile.' Seems like Tom's not giving up his deluxe aesthetic any time soon…