A fashion genius, a billion-dollar businessman, a creator of perfume bestsellers, an Oscar-nominated director, a perfectionist, an individual in many ways, these are just some of the words that describe a living legend, a man who made an institution out of his name – Tom Ford.
Thomas Carlyle Ford was born on August 27, 1961, in Austin, Texas. He spent his early childhood in the suburbs of Houston and San Marcos. He says about himself that he never behaved like a child. There are many reasons for that: at the age of three, he would walk around with a blazer slung over his arm, at the age of six, as soon as his parents came out, he would redecorate the rooms, arranging the furniture. He was bullied every day at school because he wore a suit and a purse, he thought he looked great, and he didn’t understand why others didn’t think the same.
Tom Ford had a role model in fashion from a very early age. “My grandmother was probably the first person I thought was gorgeous. She was incredibly elegant. She had big hair and big cars. When I was three, I imagined her as a cartoon character. She would infuse our lives with gifts and boxes, she always smelled great, and she looked great. For me, she was bigger than life. She looked like she was living in another world, and wherever it was, I wanted to go”, he told Interview magazine.
At 16, he moved to New York to study art history, which he dropped out of after only a year. He moved to California and began his acting career. The proof that his job went well is also shown by the fact that at one point, his face appeared at the same time in 12 commercials that were broadcast across the country. He graduated in architecture from Parsons College, but fashion, photography, and film have always been the center of his interest. After graduating, Tom Ford started working for American sportswear designer Cathy Hardwick, whom he literally called for a month, day after day, in order to get a job. He was her assistant for two years, after which he moved to Perry Ellis, where he collaborated with designer Marc Jacobs.
Ford’s talent and creativity were first recognized by Dawn Mello, then creative director of Gucci, who hired him in 1990 as a designer of the women’s prêt-à-porter collection. Enormous effort and work brought results, so after only four years, he was promoted to creative director of the Gucci Group, and when this company bought Yves Saint-Laurent, Ford was appointed creative director of that brand as well. He brought sexuality and glamor to the brand, which was almost on the verge of bankruptcy. With photographer Mario Testino and stylist Carine Roitfeld, he was working on advertising campaigns that became absolute hits. A photograph of Sophie Dahl in an advertisement for Opium, in a sexually suggestive pose dressed only in pearls and heels, was banned from being placed on billboards in the UK. An ad for the M7 with a completely naked Samuel de Cubber, except for the French edition of Vogue, Vogue Hommes, and the German edition of GQ, was rarely allowed to be published. The world was left breathless, and Gucci’s sales increased by an unimaginable 90 percent in just two years.
The company, which was estimated at 4.3 billion dollars in 1999, was worth 10 billion by 2004. Still, despite the huge success, Ford left it due to the conflict with the new management over the artistic control of the group. Years later, he admitted that the move left him penniless and made him very depressed, but he did not give up. Five months after leaving the house to which he gave so much of himself, he wrote a book that presents his work and follows his influence on the fashion world, and especially on Gucci. “I was really proud of everything I did there, and that’s why I decided: I’m going to write a big, thick book and call it Tom Ford,” he once said in an interview with Vogue magazine.
After founding the film company FADE TO BLACK in 2005, in 2009, he made his directorial debut with the film A Single Man, for which he worked on both screenwriting and production. The premiere of the film was held at the Venice Film Festival, where he received many awards, and the main actor Colin Firth also received awards: Coppa Volpi and BAFTA for Best Actor, as well as Golden Globe and Oscar nominations for Best Leading Actor. Ford was nominated for Best Movie Debut and Best First Screenplay. This is not his only film achievement in 2016. Ford wrote and directed the film Nocturnal Animals, which also did well with critics. The film won a grand jury award at the 73rd Venice International Film Festival, and the cast, which included Ami Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal, received Golden Globe and Oscar nominations.
Tom Ford and Estee Lauder began collaborating in 2005 with Youth Dew Amber Nude, a more modern and advanced version of the famous Youth-Dew created for Estee Lauder in 1953 by Josephine Catapano. Ford upgraded the erotic, oriental debut with intoxicating and challenging aromas of dark chocolate, spices, black rose, and cognac with warm amber that dominates throughout the composition. The perfume that enchanted the young generation on the first sniff also earned over 200 million dollars.
That year, Tom Ford also announced the creation of his own brand. The first store, of now 21 present around the world, he opened a little later in one of the most exclusive locations, Madison Avenue in New York. At the same time, his long-awaited men’s collection appeared, and in 2010 he marked his return to women’s clothing design with a presentation at Madison Avenue for clientele such as Beyoncé, Daphne Guinness, and Lauren Hutton.
The spring/summer 2012 collection did not go so well. Virginie Mouzat from the influential French publication Le Figaro went so far as to call it a “nightmare”. Ford agreed, acknowledging that it was the worst thing he had ever done. Down but not defeated, the following year, he decided on a different approach, having a fashion show for the first time following the schedule of London Fashion Week. Also known for not allowing access to photographers until then, because he did not want the clothes to lose their “freshness” in the photo, on the day of the show, Ford personally conducted the media and all those interested through his collection. That year, the “London Collections for Men” was declared one of the most glamorous events in the British capital.
“I have always known how to evaluate well, that is one of the reasons for my success. Put on one hundred and five pairs of shoes, and I will choose the ones that will surpass all the others. Suffice it to say – I like this the most and it will sell the best. It is not just about talent but also knowledge and experience. Fashion is a balance between art and trade“, he said in numerous interviews. Aside from the fact that he always had an eye for products that would achieve commercial success, Tom Ford dared to choose fragrant formulas that few would dare to launch in the perfume world. In addition to courage, an adage that always guided him was that people should not only be given what they want but also reveal to them what they did not even know they wanted. In my case, it’s true, because it was with some of his perfumes, like Gucci Rush for Men, that I discovered how I wanted to smell.
The Tom Ford perfume collection consists of 99 glamorous women’s and men’s fragrances, as many as he has released so far. And while many perfume fans treat him like a perfume icon, some find his fragrances unbearable. But no one remains indifferent, and his creations have been on the perfume lists of bestsellers for years.
Black Orchid, the first fragrance launched in 2006, is a rich mixture of dark orchids and spices, rounded as an oriental chypre that provided delight for many ladies (and men). The top notes are French jasmine, black truffle, ylang-ylang, black currant, and a bright mixture of refreshing notes of lemon and cucumber. The floral-spicy heart is Tom Ford’s black orchid, and the base includes woody notes, incense, amber, vanilla, and balsamic notes. This is a perfume of open eroticism and tangible perversion, a dark object of desire for those who immerse themselves in it.
For the masculine scent Tom Ford For Men, he repeated the shock therapy with commercials alluding to sex. The perfume is based on cypriol, an Indian plant that gives perfumes a forest note. Cypriol is known for providing men sexual power and its aphrodisiac properties. In addition to cypriol, the fragrance uses amber, cedar, patchouli, which is why the scent is characterized by extreme sensuality.
Whatever collection he creates, Tom Ford believes that men and women can wear any of his perfumes. Thus, in 2007 the Private Blend collection of 12 unisex Eau de parfums was created, each of which can be worn independently or combined with other fragrances from the collection. Although, having in mind the potency of the formulas, I would not recommend the layered application, at least not when it comes to Tom Ford perfumes.
I have an opportunity to create original perfumes that are not limited by mainstream conventions of creating perfumes. Private blend is designed to have in mind a true connoisseur of fragrances; he told the Perfume society.
One of the most popular perfumes from that collection is Tobacco Vanille, an attractive and glamorous fragrance that opens with notes of tobacco leaves and flavored spices. At the heart of the scent are tonka beans, tobacco flowers, vanilla, and cocoa, while the base consists of a mixture of woody notes and dried fruit. It can very often be felt on the heated bodies of nightclub visitors because Tobacco Vanille harmonizes perfectly with rooms filled with cigar smokes, which is a quality that few perfumes possess.
Men’s Noir is a fragrance created to capture the different aspects of a man like Tom Ford: sophisticatedly urban on the outside, sensual on the inside. The oriental fragrance contains top notes of verbena and bergamot cut with the accord of cumin and rose, to create an eccentric but compelling spicy-floral blend. At the heart of the fragrance are black pepper, nutmeg, resin, Egyptian geranium, and sage. At the same time, the base notes opoponax, amber, Indonesian patchouli, vetiver, civet, and vanilla complete this exotic blend.
Noir is enigmatic, dark, complex, and surprising. It’s perhaps my most personal scent so far, Ford said.
Noir Extreme is designed to reveal a new dimension to Noir, Extreme leaves a strong impression, just like the man who wears it. It opens with a mix of fresh citrus fruits and warm spicy aromas, mixing top and middle notes of mandarin, neroli, saffron, cardamom, and nutmeg. The base is a harmonious balance of hot amber, musk, sandalwood, and sweet vanilla. The charismatic fragrance was first introduced to the world in 2015, and Ford itself was the promo face of this perfume.
Perhaps the best from the Noir collection is Noir de Noir that perfected Noir’s original idea and gave it an exciting twist by combining two sinful pleasures, chocolate and a rose. You don’t have to be a romantic at heart to know that this mixture is perfect for the first, second, and every date in life.
Many perfumers have collaborated with him on creating fragrant creations that push boundaries. Among them are Harry Fremont, Sonia Constant, Yves Cassar, Givaudan, Calice Becker, David Apel, Yann Vasnier, Shyamala Maisondieu, Antoine Maisondieu, Clement Gavarry, Rodrigo Flores-Roux, Nathalie Gracia-Cetto, and Olivier Gillotin. The beauty collection of cosmetics and fragrances for men and women announced as a unique vision of modern glamor will contribute to his company’s sales of more than a billion dollars by the end of 2020.
In a career spanning nearly three decades, Tom Ford has received numerous accolades: the 2008 CDFA Designer of the Year Award, four Vogue Fashion Awards, two ACE Awards, the GQman Award, the Andre Leon Talley Lifetime Achievement Award, just to name a few. He was named on the Time top list as one of the 100 most influential people in 2011 and was also nominated for the Best Designer Brand for 2012. In March 2019, Ford was elected chairman of the Council of Fashion Designers of America – CFDA.
The thing about Tom Ford is Tom Ford. His creations are intended for a specific woman whose image he has an emotional connection with. He feels her, sees her, hears her, touches her, she is all around him, explains Stella McCartney, who has known him for more than 20 years.
At the same time, this visionary is a destroyer of conventional business models, some exclusive presentations of which were banned on social media, and many envied him on the digitally published video with Lady Gaga in which the models flooded the Soul Train track, carrying his creations.
I was always a little dysthymic. Earlier, drinking and drugs stimulated some of my most creative moments, so for a long time, I had an incredible fear that I would not be able to create sober. I worked on redirecting the addiction; now, my job is my addiction. I am a perfectionist to the point of madness, and beauty gives me great joy and great sorrow. It’s like when you see and feel the most beautiful rose, and you are aware that it will soon dry out because if it were permanent, you wouldn’t even notice it, Tom Ford explained.
It is in this sentence, as well as in the constant thoughts about the mortality of living beings and the transience of beauty that the core of his creation is found. The fight against the fate of transience is the driving force that is visible in every part of it. Whether it is eye shadow, perfume, or wardrobe, they need to last a long time, capture the perfect moment, and make it as everlasting as possible. The wardrobe must be wearable now and immediately and forever. Did he succeed in that? I will leave it to the reader to judge. One thing is for sure; there is no person on the planet who does not know two short words: Tom Ford.
Perfume reviews are marked with a blue link.
- Amber Absolute (2007)
- Arabian Wood (2009)
- Azure Lime (2010)
- Beau de Jour (2019)
- Black Orchid (2006)
- Black Orchid Eau de Toilette (2015)
- Black Orchid hair Mist (2017)
- Black Orchid Oud (2012)
- Black Orchid perfume Lalique Edition (2016)
- Black Orchid Voile de Fleur
- Orchid Soleil (2016)
- Velvet Orchid (2014)
- Velvet Orchid Lumiere (2016)
- Grey Vetiver Eau de Toilette (2014)
- Café Rose (2012)
- Jonquille de Nuit (2012)
- Lys Fume (2012)
- Ombre de Hyacinth (2012)
- Noir (2012)
- Noir Anthracite (2012)
- Noir Extreme (2015)
- Noir Pour Femme (2012)
- Black Violet (2007)
- Bois Marocain (2009)
- Bois Rouge (2007)
- Café Rose (2012)
- Champaca Absolute (2009)
- Costa Azzurra (2014)
- Costa Azzurra Acqua (2018)
- Eau de Soleil Blanc (2018)
- Fleur de Chine (2013)
- Fleur de Portofino (2015)
- Fleur de Portofino Acqua (2019)
- Fougère d’Argent (2018)
- Fougère Platine (2018)
- Fucking Fabulous (2017)
- Grey Vetiver (2009)
- Grey Vetiver Eau de Toilette (2014)
- Harem Noir
- Italian Cypress (2008)
- Jasmin Rouge (2011)
- Jasmine Musk (2009)
- Jonquille de Nuit (2012)
- Lavender Extrême (2019)
- Lavender Palm (2011)
- London (2013)
- Lost Cherry (2018)
- Lys Fume (2012)
- Mandarino di Amalfi (2014)
- Mandarino di Amalfi Acqua (2017)
- Métallique (2019)
- Moss Breches (2007)
- Musk Pure (2009)
- Neroli Portofino (2007)
- Neroli Portofino Acqua (2016)
- Neroli Portofino Forte (2016)
- Noir de Noir (2007)
- Ombre de Hyacinth (2012)
- Ombré Leather (2018)
- Ombré Leather 16 (2016)
- Orchid Soleil (2016)
- Oud Fleur (2013)
- Oud Minérale (2017)
- Oud Wood (2007)
- Oud Wood Intense (2017)
- Patchouli Absolu (2014)
- Plum Japonais (2013)
- Purple Patchouli
- Reserve Collection: Amber Absolute (2019)
- Reserve Collection: Arabian Wood (2019)
- Reserve Collection: Black Violet (2019)
- Reserve Collection: Bois Marocain (2019)
- Reserve Collection: Italian Cypress (2019)
- Reserve Collection: Jonquille de Nuit (2019)
- Reserve Collection: Rive d’Ambre (2019)
- Reserve Collection: Velvet Gardenia (2019)
- Rive d’Ambre (2013)
- Rose Prick (2020)
- Sahara Noir (2013)
- Santal Blush (2011)
- Shanghai Lily (2013)
- Sole di Positano (2017)
- Sole di Positano Aqua (2019)
- Soleil Blanc (2016)
- Soleil Neige (2019)
- Soleil Neige (2019)
- Tobacco Oud (2013)
- Tobacco Oud Intense (2017)
- Tobacco Vanille (2007)
- Tom Ford Extreme (2007)
- Tom Ford for Men (2007)
- Tom Ford Noir (2012)
- Tom Ford Noir Anthracite (2017)
- Tom Ford Noir Eau de Toilette (2013)
- Tom Ford Noir Extreme (2015)
- Tom Ford Noir pour Femme (2015)
- Tuscan Leather (2007)
- Tuscan Leather Intense (2019)
- Urban Musk (2009)
- Vanille Fatale (2018)
- Velvet Gardenia (2007)
- Venetian Bergamot (2015)
- Velvet Orchid Lumière (2016)
- Vert Bohème (2016)
- Vert d’Encens (2016)
- Vert de Fleur (2016)
- Vert des Bois (2016)
- Violet Blonde (2011)
- Voile de Fleur (2007)
- White Patchouli (2008)
- White Suede (2009)