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Film directors, take note: Tom Ford is interested in adding “actor” to his résumé. Just don’t ask him to play a fashion designer.
“I do get offered things a few times a year, but I have no desire to play a version of myself,” Ford tells THR in a phone interview. “I said that as a bit of a toss-off [in the book], but it might be an interesting exercise. I did want to be an actor when I was young, but I didn’t like putting myself out in the world like that. I’m much more secure now.”
In Tom Ford 002 (out Nov. 10 from Rizzoli exclusively at Tom Ford boutiques and tomford.com, $135), the follow-up to his 2004 autobiography, the designer indeed adopts an unabashed approach toward his current state of mind as he examines the past 15 years of his career and personal life. Since departing his creative-director duties at Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent in 2004, Ford has enjoyed an intensely prolific period that included founding his eponymous label (with more than 100 stores worldwide); writing and directing 2009’s A Single Man and 2016’s Nocturnal Animals; and becoming a father at age 51, when he and husband Richard Buckley had a son via surrogate in 2012. Buckley, a respected fashion journalist, died in September at age 72 following a long illness; it’s the only subject Ford requested to refrain from discussion. The book is dedicated to Buckley and their son, Jack.
Ford’s 60th birthday Aug. 27 also was the milestone that, as it approached, inspired introspection. Yet he’s all too aware that one element — discussed in an expansive Q&A in Tom Ford 002 with journalist Bridget Foley — is sure to spark headlines: how he overcame an addiction to cocaine and alcohol in the earlier period of the book’s 15-year span. But, he says, “I don’t regret any of it, by the way, because everything in my life has added up to who I am today. It was out of control, and in order to continue life, to be creative and certainly to be a parent, I had to stop.”
Glamorous photos from runways, provocative ad campaigns, red carpets, editorials and film sets populate the book. Ford edited the images over the course of a year, starting with “thousands and thousands” of photos gathered from his company’s public relations departments around the world. He preferred looking at printed images versus digital, he says, laying everything he liked on the floor to discern favorites and determine what worked together. That’s how everyone from Rihanna and David Beckham to Jane Fonda, Beyoncé and Brad Pitt, plus Ford’s own March 2006 Vanity Fair “Hollywood Issue” cover — on which he appeared with Keira Knightley and Scarlett Johansson — made the cut. “It’s hard to squeeze 15 years of your life into 400 pages when you’re in the business of visuals,” Ford says.
Diary-like entries kick off each chapter: “What the hell was I thinking?!” he writes in the introduction to 2010. “I did something that I swore that I would never do: I launched a women’s collection. Designing womenswear can consume you. Literally.” Ford is wholly pragmatic about his no-holds-barred attitude in both the Q&A and each chapter introduction. “Something that comes with age and a certain security is the ability to be honest, and that’s what I felt like. Why wouldn’t I be honest at this point?” he says. “I own my own business, so I can’t be fired.”
Living in Los Angeles and the impact of Hollywood on his brand also are explored. Fatherhood unquestionably has changed Ford, both his outlook and his home life. “Los Angeles is built around life at friends’ houses, around swimming pools, and when you’re raising a 9-year-old, it’s wonderful,” he tells THR. “I drive him to school, we play tennis, go swimming. L.A. works for us.”
In the book, he reminisces about favorite moments in 2012: “Gwyneth Paltrow walked down the red carpet at the Oscars in a white dress with a cape that she selected straight from the showroom. Rihanna was wearing my clothes everywhere; Tom Brady, one of the most handsome and charming guys ever, and a great customer, was dressing almost exclusively in my clothes; and James Bond [Daniel Craig], wearing one of my suits, made an appearance at the Olympics with the queen. It was a great year.”
“There are more celebrities in this book than there were in the first,” Ford notes to THR. “We live in a celebrity-driven culture, and they’re the way we communicate so much these days. They’re also some of my best customers — and paying customers — because my clothes are not quiet, they’re somewhat daring.”
As the fashion industry continues to recover from the effects of COVID-19, Ford oversaw a full schedule of Spring 2022 shows during New York Fashion Week in September in his capacity as chairman of the Council of Fashion Designers of America.
“Fashion shows tried all sorts of different ways [during the pandemic], but there’s nothing like the power of a live show,” says the designer, who debuted his own Spring 2022 collection at New York’s Lincoln Center as the finale of the week, with Julianne Moore, Dan Levy and Eiza González among the stars on the front row. “The energy, the vibe, the music, it’s all necessary. That feeling translates so easily to social media: I think Instagram, for all its evils, may actually save fashion. People dress for Instagram; they’re costuming themselves for their own movie.”
Perhaps it’s no accident that Ford enjoys that idea, as images of Moore and Colin Firth from on set and behind the scenes on A Single Man likewise occupy significant space in 002. “Other than having Jack and raising him, making A Single Man is probably the single thing I’m most proud of because it was so incredibly personal,” Ford says. “I loved the process. It was so enormously fulfilling. I wish I had time to make more films, but somehow I created this big business.”
Yet even as Ford remains devoted to fashion design and the sustainability conversation that now dominates the industry — he released a watch 100 percent made from ocean plastics in November 2020 — his love of film is never far from mind.
Is he tired of being asked when he’ll make a third movie? “I’ve been working on a screenplay of a book I have the rights to, but I’ve been so busy — and during the pandemic, like a lot of people, I felt a bit shell-shocked and not remotely creative,” he says. “But I’m not tired of the question. I just wish my answer could be, ‘We start shooting in two months.’ “
This story first appeared in the Nov. 3 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.
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