Russia loves Tom Ford!
First, he was named “International Man of the Year” at the GQ/HUGO BOSS Man of the Year Awards which were held in Moscow on September 21st, 2011.
Now, GQ Russia has named Tom Ford “Designer of the Decade!” He is being honored in a special October 2011 Collectors edition of the magazine with photography by Nigel Parry. Joining him in the photoshoot were models Ines P and Tabitha Hall.
We have handsome Tom:
And, of course, we have racy/controversial Tom:
Personally, I can’t stop staring at these images… they are just so… TOM FORD! Controversial. Sexy. I especially love the last shot because its the reverse image of the photograph on the wall… I keep going back to it!
I was fortunate enough to get my hands on a copy of the magazine and have (roughly) translated some of the interview for you. Please keep in mind that this is a very rough translation that likely has some errors!
Right off the bat, there was a lovely exchange between Ford and his interviewer about the dress she was wearing:
GQ: Mr. Ford, I am honored to be able to speak with you.
Tom: Thanks. Your dress is beautiful. What is it?
When I learned that I was going to be interviewing you, I immediately thought – what am I going to wear? It would be nice to wear TOM FORD for Tom Ford. Another option was something YSL, perhaps from the period you worked there. But I knew I wouldn’t be wearing anything like that. So I put on one of my Grandmother’s dresses.
Yes. Imagine. 1946, World War II had just ended. The city of Vologda in northern Russia. White churches, white snow, black ice and no food. Well, in general, there was just nothing. Cold and famine. Except for a fashion house. And every teacher – and my grandmother was a teacher of literature – could have a beautiful dress. This dress was sewn from German material. I think it’s crepe satin. The seams were done on a “Singer” sewing machine and the rest is hand embroidered.
Excellent! The dress is very elegant, it looks completely modern. Wonderful story, wonderful dress and on top of that it’s so meaningful. Very elegant for 1946. But no less elegant today.
Thoughts on his designs:
… about your Grandmother’s dress – charming story. As for my designs – the ones that I’m doing now, and some of what I did for Gucci – I want to believe that for someone a piece will be so special that they will save it, send it to their daughter, their granddaughter. And perhaps, after 60 years, someone will say: “It was my grandmother’s!” And someone else will say, “My God! How beautiful! “… I want my clothes to be beautiful. I want to create interesting pieces that are not thrown away and stored. That’s why my clothes are expensive. I try to create things that I can be proud of. And I hope one day, sixty years later, someone will come to work and say, “this dress used to be my grandmother’s” or “this suit was my grandfather’s.” That is the power of fashion.
On September 11th, 2001:
GQ: I love a quote from your book, it is truly brilliant… “The Power of fashion can be scary. On September 11th our New York YSL Store received 42 calls from women wanting the peasant blouse.”
Tom: Yes, that left an impression on me. We received more than 40 calls. I was in New York that day, had just opened a boutique. I came to New York in advance, had dinner with a friend, it had been on the top floor in one of the towers… I am very glad that I was there. That day I experienced a feeling that is impossible to imagine. It must be akin to what people felt during the Second World War… when I learned about these calls, I felt disgusted… we need to look at the big picture. And the World Trade Center, all who lost their lives, they are so much more important than our blouses. That’s why I addressed this in the book, this idea about the power of fashion – with bitterness. While on the one hand, I was happy that I could make something that was so wanted, on the other it disgusted me that – to some – blouses were more important than what is happening. I have two very different sides, which are constantly in conflict, pulling me back and forth.
On the changing role of fashion in Russian society:
[I first visited] Moscow in 1984. I was a student in Paris, came as a tourist, and of course, at the time it was still the Soviet Union… Over the past twenty years I have witnessed dramatic stylistic changes in Russia. Today we are seeing the same thing in China. I hope that I don’t offend any Russian readers with this comparison. But when I first visited Russia, people were languishing in vogue. But then, when the Soviet Union ceased to exist and the country opened, it was reduced to fashion labels. Now everything has changed – Russian tastes have become more sophisticated. Labels are no longer as important. It’s amazing how fast things have changed.
I think a benefit of communism – although perhaps I shouldn’t say this because I don’t know if it truly applies in Russia – might be that the Russian people were able to get a good education… If we talk about education, then, for example, the U.S. education system is extremely frustrating to me. I have lived in (mostly) New York a long time, and when I return to the U.S., I am still proud that I am an American, but I am extremely worried about the decline of education, culture, movies and more… I love Obama, I am a Democrat. But I am becoming more and more nervous and worried about what is happening in America.
On life and the aging process:
I love fashion, I love flowers. I think we have to live for the sake of the beautiful moments. Nothing makes me sadder or happier than a beautiful bouquet of peonies. I love peonies. They are so beautiful and bright. But I can’t help but look at them and think that after two days they dry up. The person with whom I live now was 39 when we met. We have been together 25 years… And I look almost the same now at 49. But he has aged. I see it, and it saddens me… But I manage to avoid seeing just the good or just the bad. I try to see the whole thing as a process, and then it doesn’t make me so sad.
Sometimes you might think to yourself, “I feel like I can’t go on living.” But if you look at it the right way, you realize that death – it is not an end. I am interested in all kinds of spirituality, but more – the eastern philosophies. For me, death is not an end, it’s a transformation. I look at life as a machine… I feel a sort of energy within myself. This energy has always been, even before I came into this world. I think this is one of the reasons why I like fashion – it’s distracting. I like to be very busy. But it’s necessary to stop at times, for me, if I don’t, it can lead to a strong depression. Creating something – that’s what makes me happy. Building a house, drawing a collection, making a movie …
Truly beautiful people are the ones whose beauty is inside. This is because their spirit, whatever the case, no matter what happens and wherever life takes them, remains a good spirit. The spirit, which is inside of us. This [our bodies] are our other, earthly part, but that is not the spirit, think in terms of “There’s a pretty, but there is no…”. [Our bodies/looks] are just elements of our culture. In the 1500s a fuller figure was considered beautiful and being thin -vice versa. And in 2011, thinness is considered beautiful. True beauty is something else. It is spirit, which is inside a person. The greatest beauty on earth – is when you can find both of those together. Physical beauty, coupled with a wonderful spirit – it’s dazzling!
The happiest people I know are not the most physically beautiful at all. Your inner beauty is what makes you a beautiful man. If you don’t develop as a person [outer beauty] is nothing. I actually believe [outer beauty] can make someone unhappy if that is all they have. Same with money. Whether you have them or not, they will not make you happy on their own. Money is good because it gives us freedom. I, for example, can say: “I want to open up a fashion house.” “I want to make a movie.” “I want to build a house. ” Yes, money gives us that freedom. But today I am happier than ever with my life. I feel I went through a very dark point in my life and have now found peace. I love what I do. I love Richard. I love my dogs. I do not drink alcohol… I do not take any drugs. Do not smoke cigarettes. Do not use cocaine. For me it was a turning point. I talked to a therapist who helped me feel what it was like to really live… and in this sense it isn’t so much about joy and sadness. I hope that my clothes make people happy. But that is not true happiness. It’s just fun.
On when he decided to become a fashion designer:
You won’t believe this, but I decided to become a fashion designer while I was in Russia. While I was a student studying architecture in Paris, I went on a guided tour of the Soviet Union. We traveled to Moscow, Leningrad and Kiev. It happened in Leningrad. I came down with the flu and was stuck in my room. It suddenly just hit me: “I want to become a fashion designer!”I reasoned it out in my head: “I have a good sense of style, I’ve always liked fashion, clothes, I look good.” So there it was – the answer to the question “what am I going to do with my life?” just came to me in Leningrad… I left Leningrad for Paris, ended my study of architecture, and went back to New York. The decision was made in Leningrad.
On his relationship with Richard Buckley:
When you find someone perfect, you can’t let go… I believe that when you find someone who is truly good, you can not just let them go. For example, I can’t imagine that, say, after three years of living with Richard, I would suddenly decided to be with someone else. Even if something was to happen, you need to work through it. Because, Richard – he is my family. I think we are happier than ever. Do we have lots of sex? No. Do we get to spend a large amount of fun times together? No. But that’s okay. Because we have something more profound.
On whether he has ever had a serious relationship with a woman:
I have had long-term relationships with both men and women. That’s all I’ll say on this topic. I’m not bisexual, I’m gay. Definitely gay. I like women, but generally I am more attracted to men. But I have had great relationships with women. Incidentally, I find sex with a woman to be more natural than with a man… Obviously, our bodies – male and female – were originally created to suit one another. Physically we were created to be with women. In[A Single Man] there is a scene where two men are lying together and one asks: “Why are you with me?” – “Because I’m in love with you.” And here I am in love with a man. That doesn’t mean that I find women unattractive.
On John Galliano:
I really like John. I think he’s one of the most talented designers out there. Normally I don’t discuss other designers. But I really like John. Whatever he said, no matter what he had in mind, I personally never heard anything like that from John. I have no idea whether or not he is an anti-Semite. I can’t talk about that. Of course, what he said to those people – it wasn’t good. But I know he was under a lot of stress. Plus, alcohol and drugs. I understand it. When I worked for Gucci, for example, we were earning $3.2 billion per year! If I designed a bad collection, our sales would falter. Everyone who works for you, they have a sense of pride that results from your creations. It’s not just from a financial statement, you feel like you owe everyone something so you do more and more, try to be better and better… In the end, you can lose touch with reality. I understand that pressure. It didn’t happen to me in that capacity, but I was close. It happens to many designers. I think John needs help.
On Alexander McQueen:
Alexander was my friend. I brought him into Gucci. What happened to him, his suicide, it is very, very sad. But I have to say, in some ways, it could have been predicted. Think of his collections – death, darkness, skulls – they were always present.
On the state of the fashion industry today:
I think the state of the fashion industry reflects where we are culturally. The Seventies – that is a time that I always go back to. When you look at photos from the seventies women are always smiling. happy. It was a time before AIDS, when people could touch, kiss, have sex. It was a time of stability. Perhaps this is a time of global mourning. Even when we don’t intentionally set out to have a “dark collection” a sense of sadness somehow seems to permeate our designs.
And that, my friends, is as good as I could do on the translation. As I said, its a rough translation, but you definitely can get the gist of what he was saying. And yet again – I love the insight into his thoughts.
This honor also coincided with the opening of the second TOM FORD second flagship store in Moscow on September 22nd. Ford himself attended the opening of the new the three-story boutique which is located in the luxurious Tretyakovsky Passage area. You can see some footage of that here: