A Tom Ford Tribute

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Next to the James Bond franchise, menswear designer Tom Ford has been the most influential promoter of classic formal wear in the new millennium.

Ford began his career in 1986 and just four years later joined the faltering luxury goods company Gucci which was then on the verge of bankruptcy.  His early success in the fashion house’s womenswear line led to his involvement in menswear, fragrances, advertising, and even store design.  The result was a complete reinvigoration of the brand and promotion to the role of creative director in 1994.   Ford also became the creative director of Yves Saint Laurent when Gucci acquired the rival brand in 1999.  Like his work at Gucci, Ford was able to catapult the classic fashion house back into the mainstream and earned numerous Council of Fashion Designers of America Awards in the process.  By the time he left Gucci Group in 2004 the company was valued at $10 billion.

Ford’s next venture was to launch his own line of menswear, eyewear, and accessories in 2006, the same year that the blockbuster James Bond reboot Casino Royale breathed new life into 007 franchise.  The two institutions would overlap when the wunderkind designer was selected to outfit the maverick Bond in the 2008 follow-up, Quantum of Solace.  The collaboration was a perfect match for Ford’s penchant for skillfully balancing the  trim tailored fit of the 2000s with the elegant detailing of traditional menswear.  This was particularly true for the film’s featured tuxedo which was an homage to the original Bond dinner suit from 1962’s Dr. No, right down to the midnight-blue hue and turnback cuffs.

The success of Quantum and the appearance of Daniel Craig in its featured tuxedo at the 2009 Academy Awards soon afterwards had an immediate impact on men’s formal wear.  By the following year the ubiquitous millennial interpretation of the tuxedo as glorified business suit was being seriously outclassed by Ford’s classic styling on red carpets everywhere; the mundaneness of notched lapels, two-button jackets, long ties, and bared shirt waists became glaringly obvious in comparison to Ford’s bold shawl and peaked lapels, especially when paired with his cummerbunds and old-school evening waistcoats. At the same time, midnight blue returned from decades of obscurity to once again take the spotlight as a stylish alternative in both designer labels and mass-produced models.

Those of us who value classic black tie styling owe a great debt to Mr. Ford for his role in promoting it to a whole new generation.

Brad Pitt's early endorsement of the Tom Ford brand provided priceless publicity. This appearance is from 2008. (Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

Brad Pitt’s early endorsement of the Tom Ford brand provided priceless publicity. This appearance is from 2008. (Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

Dnaiel Craig sporting the famous midnight-blue Quantum of Solace dinner suit at the 2009 Oscars.

Daniel Craig sporting the iconic midnight-blue Quantum of Solace dinner suit at the 2009 Oscars.

Brad Pitt again, wearing self-trimmed lapels at the 2009 Golden Globe Awards.

Brad Pitt again, wearing a Tom Ford tuxedo with self-trimmed lapels at the 2009 Golden Globe Awards. (Steve Granitz/ WireImage)

Bradley Cooper, seen here at the 2010 Oscars, is another Tom Ford aficionado.   For manages to elevate the mundane notch lapel and two-button jacket cut with the addition of a rakish low-cut waistcoat.

Bradley Cooper, seen here at the 2010 Oscars, is another Tom Ford aficionado. Here Ford manages to elevate the mundaneness of the notch lapel and two-button closing with the addition of a rakish low-cut waistcoat. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Ryan Reynolds in Tom Ford at the 2010 Oscars.

Ryan Reynolds in Tom Ford at the 2010 Oscars. (Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

Tom Ford at the 2010 amfAR gala.

Tom Ford himself at the 2010 amfAR gala. (Francois Durand/Getty Images)

Tom Ford in a velvet dinner jacket at the 2011 BAFTA Awards. (Dave Hogan/Getty Images)

Tom Ford in a velvet dinner jacket at the 2011 BAFTA Awards. (Dave Hogan/Getty Images)

Yet another Tom Ford champion, Justin Timberlake at the 2011 Academy Awards. (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Yet another Tom Ford champion, Justin Timberlake at the 2011 Academy Awards. (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Tom Ford's dark navy dinner suit for 2012's Skyfall.

Tom Ford’s dark navy dinner suit for 2012’s Skyfall.

Daniel Craig's Tom Ford ensemble at the Skyfall premiere is reviewed in a separate post. (Gf/Bauer Griffin)

Daniel Craig’s Tom Ford ensemble at the Skyfall premiere is reviewed in a separate post. (Gf/Bauer Griffin)

Bradley Cooper in midnight-blue Tom Ford at the 2012 Vanity Fair Oscar party. (Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

Bradley Cooper in midnight-blue Tom Ford at the 2012 Vanity Fair Oscar party. (Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

Ford in a blue velvet dinner jacket at the 2012 Vanity Fair Oscar after-party.

Ford in a blue velvet dinner jacket at the 2012 Vanity Fair Oscar after-party. (Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

Colin Firth at the 2012 Oscars.

Colin Firth in Tom Ford at the 2012 Oscars.  (Michael Buckner/Getty Images)

Tom Hanks in a double-breasted Tom Ford at the 2012 Oscars.

Tom Hanks is another loyal Tom Ford client.  Here he is in a double-breasted creation at the 2012 Oscars. (Rex Features)

Colin Firth in a natty evening jacket at the 2013 Met Gala.

Colin Firth in a natty Tom Ford dinner jacket at the 2013 Met Gala. (Rex Features)

Justin Timberlake at the 2013 GQ Men of the Year Awards.

Justin Timberlake in Tom Ford at the 2013 GQ Men of the Year Awards. (Getty)

GQ named Ford named  Designer of the Year in 2013.

GQ named Ford named Designer of the Year in 2013.

Hugh Jackman at the 2013 Oscars.

Hugh Jackman wearing Tom Ford at the 2013 Oscars. (FameFlynet Pictures)

Justin Timberlake at the Time 100 gala.

Justin Timberlake once again in Tom Ford at the Time 100 gala in 2013. (Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)

Jake Gyllenhaal at the 2013 Tonys.

Jake Gyllenhaal in Tom Ford at the 2013 Tonys.  (WENN)

Bradley Cooper at the 2014 Golden Globes.

Bradley Cooper sporting Tom Ford at the 2014 Golden Globes. (Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

Ford  himself at the 2014 Met Gala, one of only a handful of men that actually understood what the White Tie dress code meant.

Ford at the 2014 Met Gala.  He was one of only a handful of men who actually understood the White Tie dress code. (Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images)

Hugh Jackman at the 2014 Met Gala. (Larry Busacca/Getty Images)

Hugh Jackman at the 2014 Met Gala. (Larry Busacca/Getty Images)

5 Comments

  1. Jovan

    Thank you for this post. A lot of people write him off as being just another fashion designer, but we owe a lot to him bringing back classic black tie. True, his own suits are a bit tight at the waist for my liking (and he has got to do something about the collar gap present on many of them), and the trousers are lower than I’d prefer. But I think overall he’s an influence for good.

    Reply
    1. Reggie

      The trousers aren’t low at all. For some reason, I don’t get that collar gap. Going back to the topic, when celebrity events like these are held (which I’m not interested in), I always look to see who is wearing a proper black tie attire. When I do find them, I’m not surprised most of them are dressed by Tom Ford.

      Reply
  2. CharlesM

    I was never much for double-breasted tuxedo jackets, but after looking at these photos, I must admit that they look much better than most of the single breasted models, mainly because of the way men are wearing them (SB) these days.

    Reply
  3. wdwright77

    I fully believe that if I had the reserve dollars in my accounts that Mr. Ford’s tuxedos cost, I’d have one in a second. NOT that there is anything wrong with the tuxedos I own now, but these are incredible and Tom Ford has done more to bring men back to wearing proper Black Tie than a lot of others would ever do. Frankly, if there were a way to get men to dress up even more than they do now, Tom Ford would lead the way. I may be one exception in the fact I love to wear dress clothing daily and it isn’t necessarily a tuxedo I’m wearing now. Tom Ford clothing despite the price will truly bring out the best in a man and it would be worth it to set today’s man on a lifetime track that would include more than just blue jeans, backwards ball caps and inappropriate message t-shirts. (When any of that stuff makes an appearance at my Symphony’s venue, I want to scream!!) Men need to start dressing properly again and I think Tom Ford could show us all how to do it right. And if that happens to include Black Tie, so much the better!

    Reply
    1. Jovan

      Agreed. Worth noting that he started including looser fitting, forward pleat trousers in his lineup a couple years ago. Not sure how well they’ve sold if at all, but that’s still a pretty good sign things will change in fashion soon enough. I think many designers are getting tired of making the same short and tight stuff year after year.

      With the exception of the O’Connor model (which was made at the behest of Skyfall’s costume designer), he doesn’t do things in the typical shrunken suit style that’s popular now. Even then, the RTW O’Connor suits are better fitted on Jimmy Fallon than Daniel Craig’s MTM suits in Skyfall. Ironic.

      Reply

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