After bagging a degree in interior architecture at The New School’s art and design college, Parsons The New School for Design Tom Ford went on to become one of the best designers in the world but he wasn’t designing houses at all. Instead, he’s today, a world-class American fashion designer, film director, screenwriter, and film producer who shot to prominence as the creative director at Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent.
Ford is chiefly remembered for pulling all the stops to revamp Italian fashion house Gucci which was struggling financially in the 1990s. By 1999, the deteriorating fashion house which was on the verge of collapsing when Ford joined was valued more than $4 billion. Sadly, he left the house after he and CEO Domenico de Sole failed to agree with Pinault Printemps Redoute boss over control of the Group. Notably, de Sole is credited as Ford’s partner in Gucci’s success. Ford later launched his eponymous luxury brand in 2006 and also directed the Academy Award-nominated films A Single Man (2009) and Nocturnal Animals.
For what it’s worth, Tom Ford has dressed several A-Listers and creme de la creme in Hollywood and beyond. From Michelle Obama to Beyoncé, Hugh Jackman, Jon Hamm, Henry Cavill, Jennifer Lopez, Johnny Depp, Ryan Gosling, Gwyneth Paltrow, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hanks, Will Smith, Julianne Moore and a slew of others, we have seen celebrities dazzle in his eye-watering designs. He also designed Daniel Craig’s suits for his last three iconic role as James Bond in the movies – Quantum of Solace, Skyfall, and Spectre.
Tom Ford Bio, Childhood
The legendary designer was born on August 27, 1961, in Austin, Texas to realtors Shirley Burton and Thomas David Ford. For the most part of his childhood, he lived in the suburbs of Houston, Texas, and in San Marcos, outside Austin but his family later moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico when he was 11. There, he started school at St. Michael’s High School and later transferred and graduated from Santa Fe Preparatory School in 1979.
Ford was 16 when he enrolled at Bard College at Simon’s Rock where he dropped out from and moved to New York City to study art history at New York University (NYU). He also dropped out of NYU after a year and opted for interior architecture at The New School’s art and design college, Parsons The New School for Design. Though he graduated with a degree in architecture, Ford spent more than a year in Paris, working as an intern in Chloé’s press office. This inspired his interest in fashion, thus, he spent his final year at The New School studying fashion.
After graduating with a degree in architecture, Ford found himself being drawn to fashion instead. Thus, he hid his degree certificate and channeled his inner fashion genius. He managed to convince American designer Cathy Hardwick to hire him after which he worked with her as a design assistant for two years. He moved on to clothing brand, Perry Ellis, with whom he also worked for two years.
In the bid to explore his horizon, Ford decided to venture into the world of European fashion which he described as “classier”. He was appointed as the chief women’s ready-to-wear designer at the struggling European brand, Gucci and he relocated to Milan in 1990 to make a groundbreaking change in the future of the company.
After taking over as Gucci’s design director, it took him a few months to expanded the menswear and other apparel sections in the company. He got promoted to the position of creative director in 1994 with credits for a revamped fashion style which include hipsters, satin shirts and metallic boots in the brand. Notably, his fashion sense and style were mostly inspired by the disco-era in his younger days as a student.
Fast forward to 1999, Gucci, the once dying brand was able to amass a value of almost $4.3 billion, all thanks to the creative genius that is Ford. Gucci also bought over the fashion house of Yves Saint Laurent (YSL) and Ford was made the head creative director of the brand. He continued to work his magic and kept the brands in the limelight.
By the time Ford left Gucci in 2004, the group was valued at $10 billion. Upon leaving the company, Ford launched a new line of beauty, eyewear, accessories and menswear, which he named ‘Tom Ford’ label.
The world-class designer also tried his hands at movies and announced the opening of his film production company, Fade To Black in 2005. He made his directorial debut with the film, A Single Man in the year 2009 which went on to win an award in the same year.
He opened his first, ‘Tom Ford’ store, on April 12, 2007 in New York City. Subsequently, similar stores have been opened in London, Tokyo, Milan and Los Angeles.
Ford is a true trend-setter in the world of fashion and his mother and grandmother were credited as his two early role models in fashion. His prowess has not been without recognition. He has received several awards including the International Award by the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 1995; the VHI/Vogue Awards for Best International Designer in 2000; In 2001, he was elected by the Council of Fashion Designers of America elected for Best Womenswear Designer of the Year; His film A Single Man won the Queer Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 2009 and in 2013, the list of 50 best-dressed over 50s by the Guardian featured him.
Tom Ford’s Husband
While he was studying in New York, frequent visits to Studio 54, opened his eyes to the fact that he was gay. Ford is married to Richard Buckley whom he has been with since 1986 but tied the knot in 2014. Notwithstanding, he said his first lover was the artist Ian Falcone.
His husband, Buckley is a journalist and former editor in chief of Vogue Hommes International. They live together in Los Angeles, London and Santa Fe with their son, Alexander John “Jack” Buckley Ford who was born in September 2012.
Tom Ford’s Net Worth
The American fashion designer apparently made the right call when he decided to ditch his degree in architecture to harness his passion in fashion. Who knows, he probably wouldn’t have amassed an estimated net worth of $200 million if he was designing houses instead of clothes.