Tom Ford Talks London vs New York Style, Collaborating With H&M and Insecure Moments: Q&A HIGHLIGHTS

15 June 2012 by


Things you need to know about Tom Ford: he’s amazingly funny, looks seriously sharp in a suit (ok, you probably already knew that) and gives good conversation. Yesterday, Grazia’s Style Director Paula Reed sat down with the fashion legend Tom Ford at the Apple store to discuss his amazing career. He turned Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent into the hottest labels on the planet and has since launched an eponymous line that’s loved by all of Hollywood. Oh and in his spare time, he directed the Oscar-nominated movie, A Single Man. So what does he have to say…
…on whether he feels like a fashion legend:
“No, I don’t at all. My feet are really kept on the ground by Richard Buckley, who I’ve been with for 25 years. Occasionally when I have someone in for an interview, a young student or someone who I’m interviewing for a new position, and I see their hand shake I realize that oh maybe I have this effect on people. But I don’t think you can think of yourself in that way. I think people who are compelled to achieve never really think they’ve achieved…I think the moment you get to a place when you think ‘Oh I’m a fashion legend’ then that’s when you’re no longer competitive in your field.”
…on having insecure moments:
“Of course I doubt myself. Constantly. And in fashion you have to doubt yourself right up to the last minute. Even if you’ve finished a collection and it’s the night before you’re going to show it and you realize “Oh that’s so wrong” you have to throw it out, you have to get rid of it, you have to destroy it. So you’re constantly doubting yourself. You constantly have to question yourself.”
…on arriving in New York to start his fashion career:
“I arrived in an Armani jacket, Calvin Klein jeans and cowboy boots because I’d been reading GQ in 1977 and that was the look. And I was prepared for New York! Calvin Klein jeans although they were very chic at the time were maybe a bit tight. That helped my career too, the fact they were a little tight…!”
…on the secret to success:
“I would say it’s a combination of talent and hard work but I’d say it’s slanted towards hard work. Slanted towards obsession. There are many designers who have much greater talent as a designer than I do but they may not have my drive, they may not work as hard, they may not have the focus, the desire… You have to have a talent because at the end of the day if the pants you design don’t make someone’s butt look great they’re not going to buy them. So you have to have the talent to be able to make something that people want.”
…on the pressure to succeed:
“Fashion is harder than the film industry. You have to constantly be able to crank out hit after hit after hit on demand and on a very tight calendar. I’ve come back, I’ve lost it, I’ve come back again. It’s really as good as your last collection.”
…on whether bad reviews still hurt:
“Of course they do. Because often a bad review is right and those hurt in a different way because you know in your heart what you’re reading is right. You’re quite raw because they come out the day or two days after what you’ve done when you haven’t been able to recover from it. You’re exhausted and you can’t really see what you’ve created because you’re too close to it.”
…on his proudest moments:

“My proudest moment was December 2011 – my 25th anniversary with Richard Buckley. Being with the same person for 25 years I’m very proud of and I have to say we’re happier and have a better relationship now than we did 25 years ago. Professionally it was the Venice film festival when my film was screened because it’s a surreal experience. You’re in this gigantic theatre that seats at least 1000 and at the end of the film they boo or they applaud and the entire audience just stood and applauded us for probably 10 minutes. I kinda almost don’t really remember it.”

Tom Ford Talks Eccentric London Style, Collaborating With H&M PLUS Insecure Moments

…on milestone birthdays:

“I used to have five year plans, 10 year plans, all those sorts of things. Now I just have daily plans. My daily plan and daily struggle, like most of us is to the happy. I turned 50 this year and not that that’s old but I really did change my way of thinking… If someone invites me to dinner then I think god do I really want to spend one of the thousands of dinners I have left in my life having dinner with this person then I say ‘Oh gosh, I’m can’t.’ It’s changed the way I do things.”  
…on the difference between London and New York fashion:

“London is a place where eccentricity and individuality in clothing in particular is admired, and is respected…. Americans are afraid of style. You know, remember America was founded by the puritans who fled the UK. They were very stern and strict, and too much style in America is considered a bad thing.  That’s changing, you know, now it’s totally different really. Globally, we’re unfortunately seeing a breast implant style taking that’s over the world.”
…on the problem with runway shows:

“I think a lot of people have switched off of fashion. I think one reason is because of runway shows. When I came back to fashion with a women’s’ collection this time and then a men’s collection I decided not to do runway shows, because when you do a runway show you have to amp things up in a way so that they read from a great distance - so that they are designed for photography rather than for a consumer. So you can exaggerate things to the point where they don’t actually function in real life for most peoples’ lives. And what I wanted to do was create clothes for real people. I think that’s one reason why so many people in the world have switched off of fashion. They look at it as a spectator sport.  They wanna see what everyone is wearing and how it looks, but then they put on their T-shirt and their jeans.”
…on dress-down days:

“I am actually extremely casual in certain environments. But one of the reasons I like living in London, I like the formality of it, as compared to the formality of America - or informality. I like putting on a suit. I like putting on a tie. When I’m in the country, I wear a T-shirt and jeans. If I’m going to the beach, I wear shorts, you know! There’s an appropriate thing. And I don’t mean everyone needs to wear a suit in London. But also when you’re in a public place with a lot of other people, you inflict yourself on them. We have these beautifully designed buildings … and then, all these people who look like hell! There used to be this pride… if I’m going out in the world, I should make everything look as good as it can by looking my best, it’s a show of respect. Maybe a lot of you are thinking ‘oh he’s so full of it’, but this is how I feel, is that it’s a show of respect to other people who have to look at you! You should try to look as good as you can look and help make the scenery look good.”
…on the pressures of designing:

“The most challenging thing? Creating on demand.  Because If you’re a creative person, creativity comes naturally to you, but it might come to you one month and then not necessarily come to a great idea for a few more months. But you have a calendar. The thing about fashion that people don’t realize is it’s completely repetitive. I can tell you, what I’m doing on March 21st 2013. And I’m not kidding, I have a calendar for 2013.”
…on collaborating with H&M:

"No, I’ve never had a conversation with them. I’m amused every time I read that. Not that I don’t have respect for them but I never had a conversation with them."

To watch the full interview of Paula Reed interviewing Tom Ford, download the podcast.


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