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Jennifer Hudson was commemorating her 40th birthday on Sunday, but the Respect star only wanted to celebrate it in the front row of Tom Ford’s spring 2020 presentation at New York’s Lincoln Center. “He truly is my absolute favorite, so when I was thinking about what I wanted to do, I said, ‘I’ll spend it with Tom Ford,’ that’s how much I love him,” Hudson, resplendent in a cobalt and satin velvet coat with a matching silk top and leather skirt by the designer, told The Hollywood Reporter. “Will you look at this coat? Who wouldn’t love someone who can do something like this?” she added.
Ford indeed knows how to put on a show, in both a sartorial and theatrical sense, making him the ideal designer currently anointed to close out New York Fashion Week.
Perhaps it was a nod to Hudson’s birthday that he kicked off his show with Aretha Franklin singing “Respect,” before the soundtrack veered into Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground” and The 5th Dimension’s “Aquarius (Let the Sunshine In),” each a rousing anthem to determination for better days ahead.
The clothes matched that sentiment — a collection of color, shine and sparkle from the first moment in a look that featured electric hues of pink, orange and blue in pieces that were oversized and a touch athletic-inspired.
Julianne Moore knows how deftly Ford handles color — asked to name her favorite of the designs he’s created for her in their friendship of 20-plus years, she didn’t hesitate. “Probably the emerald-green dress I wore to the Oscars [in 2003] when he was [creative director] at Saint Laurent,” Moore said. “But there have been so, so many. I’m grateful I get to wear his clothes.”
This was unquestionably a wholly confident collection by a man who knows how to combine his strengths with forward-thinking ideas. Richly beaded gold jackets, over shimmering tanks and harem pants, should sell out quickly when these pieces arrive in the spring, while satin-trimmed tuxedo jackets in brilliant blue or pink velvet seem like a terrific idea to pair with almost everything already in your closet.
“Nobody does tailoring better,” said Dan Levy. “He embraces timelessness in a way that’s just so exciting. I’m just thrilled to be here — and in Lincoln Center of all places. It’s the most enchanting night in New York.”
Moore, who attended with her husband, director Bart Freundlich, and was directed by Ford in 2009’s A Single Man, agreed. “We’ve been friends with Tom for 20 years now; he’s an exquisitely talented designer and a wonderful person,” she said. “But it’s also wonderful to be here because Lincoln Center just represents classic New York. To be here after all this time, and to feel like New York is coming back, you know that he wanted to create that moment. I adore him; he’s the best.”
Other guests included L.A. Lakers stars Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony, Pom Klementieff, Eiza Gonzalez and Saweetie.
In his show notes, Ford was wholly pragmatic in his reasoning about his collection’s inspirations. “Instagram may actually be what saves fashion in the end,” he wrote. “People now seem to only get dressed up in a major way for a red carpet or to fill their pages with shots of themselves in powerfully stylish clothes. Black doesn’t photograph well, and so clothes need to be increasingly cartoon-like to have power on the tiny screens of our phones. It is altering our perception of beauty. It has certainly altered mine.”
With Tom Ford as the current chairman of the Council of Fashion Designers of America and an honorary chair of Monday night’s Met Gala, who among his A-list fans will be ascending the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in less than 24 hours? Moore said she and Freundlich would not attend this year, but Levy and Hudson offered answers that were a bit more on the coy side: “You might [see me],” Levy said when asked if he would be seen on the museum steps, while Hudson confirmed her attendance, holding back the detail of which designer she would be joining. “You’ll have to wait and see,” Hudson said with a smile, “but I’ll be there.”
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