You can make the argument that a designer’s greatest hits are always going to be in demand among the fashion faithful. Yves Saint Laurent’s Le Smoking looks spring to mind, as do Chanel jackets, in styles perhaps decades apart but with the shared, iconic elements of bouclé tweeds, gold buttons, contrasting trim and flap pockets calling like a siren song.
So when social media took Tom Ford to task on Wednesday night for a look in his Fall 2019 collection, a tailored red velvet jacket and matching satin pants worn by Gigi Hadid, as being a little too similar to a suit seen on Trish Goff in Ford’s Fall 1996 Gucci show, it was easy to side-eye the manufactured controversy. Is the man allowed to do only one red velvet jacket in his lifetime?
Besides, this was a decidedly relaxed Ford on display. His take on comfort, as a response to what he called in his show notes, “the chaos and negative climate of the times in which we are living, [which] made me long for clothes that are gentle, not aggressive and have a certain simplicity.” (Ford has drawn headlines in the past for his opposition to the Trump Administration’s policies, noting that he likely would never dress Melania Trump. Perhaps it was telling that his show’s soundtrack was dominated by Crowded House’s 1986 hit, “Don’t Dream It’s Over.”)
The lines of the new red velvet jacket weren’t quite as slim or strict as that ’90s Gucci moment; the velvet looked a bit plusher, and here it was paired with satin pants, employed in different hues throughout the show and generously cut, their hems loosely rolled as a signal of Ford’s current focus on casual elegance.
As a bonus, those turned-up folds revealed great peep-toe pumps in dusty rose, inky black or sequined silver. The faux-fur fedoras prominent in the show’s first half likely will garner all the mentions about the collection’s accessories, though these “pimp hats” (as they were roundly dubbed) felt more like a gimmick than a true proposal for the fall season. But their addition did enhance that blend of unabashed glam and plush materials that is always central to Ford’s aesthetic.
He’s also a master of tailoring. And while the women’s looks were pointedly looser — a mix of femininity and “a certain boyishness” he said in his show notes–by contrast, the men’s suits were slim and undeniably precise.
Ansel Elgort, wearing Ford’s $4,950 Atticus cocktail jacket in pink leopard, was on the front row with girlfriend Violetta Komyshan, and it was easy to imagine the actor as Ford’s menswear muse as guys sauntered down the runway in a powdery pink suiting or a matte-and-shine mix of leather and cashmere. Or maybe it was just all those sunglasses that put one in mind of Baby Driver. “I wore him first to the Met Gala,” Elgort told The Hollywood Reporter. “I love his tuxedos, and everything he does fits me like a glove, and Violetta as well.”
Always a starry guest list, Ford’s front row also included Deborra-Lee Furness, Baz Luhrmann and Catherine Martin, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Courtney Love and NFL greats Victor Cruz, Cam Newton and Odell Beckham Jr.
“Other than [fashion designer] Rick Owens, Tom is the only one who really makes clothes that are mature and classy, but they’re sexy,” Love told THR. “I always think of Tom Ford women as glamazons who smell like Bain de Soleil. I love him, I’m a real fan.”
Ford gave a shoutout to his latest home as inspiration for the collection’s palette–a mix of dusty blues and lilacs with richly saturated hues like eggplant and olive. “Living in Los Angeles as I have for the past two years, I find that color is more important to me than it was when I lived in London,” he said in show notes. “A softer color palette seems right to me this season.”
The finale was a grouping of gowns that were loose and languid, crafted of silk jersey and embellished with chains that Ford said were meant to frame a woman’s neck and shoulders with a touch of shine. Many were paired with matching floor-length cardigans, and it was easy to imagine them hitting the Oscars red carpet on February 24.
Indeed, each dress seemed ideal for those moments when an actress talks about the importance of feeling both glamorous and comfortable – and, if she chooses, a bit sexy – at a three-hour awards ceremony. Tom Ford might be in the mood for comfort during turbulent times, but he also knows his fans need clothes for every scenario, including the year’s most high-wattage event. And these days, comfort is a luxury in high demand.