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Tom Ford


Date of Birth: Sunday, August 27, 1961
AGE: 57
Occupation: Director

















Biography: An American fashion designer and film director. He gained international fame for his turnaround of the Gucci fashion house and the creation of the Tom Ford label before directing the Oscar-nominated film A Single Man.

Tom Ford was born in Austin, Texas, to realtors Tom Ford and Shirley Burton. He spent his early life in the suburbs of Houston, Texas, and in San Marcos, outside Austin; his family moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, when he was 11. In Santa Fe, he entered St. Michael?s High School and later moved to Santa Fe Preparatory School, from which he graduated in 1979. Ford left Santa Fe at age 16, when he enrolled at Bard College at Simon?s Rock, but quickly dropped out. He then moved to New York City to study art history at New York University.

Ford dropped out of NYU after only a year, preferring to concentrate on acting in television commercials; at one time, he was in 12 national advertising campaigns simultaneously. Ford then began studying interior architecture at The New School?s famous art and design college, Parsons The New School for Design. During his time in New York, Ford became a fixture at the legendary nightclub Studio 54, where he realized he was gay. The club?s disco-era glamour would be a major influence on his later designs. Before his last year at New School, Ford spent a year and a half in Paris, where he worked as an intern in Chloé?s press office. Though his work primarily involved sending clothes out on photo shoots, it triggered his love of fashion. He spent his final year at The New School studying fashion, but nonetheless graduated with a degree in architecture.

Despite his lack of experience, Ford called American designer Cathy Hardwick every day for a month in hopes of securing a job at her mid-price sportswear company. Eventually, she agreed to see him. Hardwick later recalled the incident: "I had every intention of giving him no hope. I asked him who his favourite European designers were. He said, ?Armani and Chanel.? Months later I asked him why he said that, and he said, ?Because you were wearing something Armani?. Is it any wonder he got the job?" Ford worked as a design assistant for Hardwick for two years.

In 1988, Ford moved to Perry Ellis, where he knew both Robert McDonald, the company?s president, and Marc Jacobs, its designer, socially. He stayed at the company for two years, but grew tired of working in American fashion. In a later interview with the New York Times, he commented, "If I was ever going to become a good designer, I had to leave America. My own culture was inhibiting me. Too much style in America is tacky. It?s looked down upon to be too stylish. Europeans, however, appreciate style." Ford would soon have the opportunity to enter the world of European fashion: Gucci, a faltering luxury goods company, was seeking to strengthen its women?s ready-to-wear presence as a part of its brand overhaul. At the time, "no one would dream of wearing Gucci," said Dawn Mello, then the company?s creative director. Mello hired Ford - then a near-unknown - as the brand?s chief women?s ready-to-wear designer in 1990. "I was talking to a lot of people, and most didn?t want the job," Mello said. "For an American designer to move to Italy to join a company that was far from being a brand would have been pretty risky." Ford and his longtime partner, fashion journalist Richard Buckley, relocated to Milan that September.

Ford?s role at Gucci rapidly expanded: he was designing menswear within six months, and shoes soon after that. When Richard Lambertson left as design director in 1992, Ford took over his position, heading the brand?s ready-to-wear, fragrances, image, advertising, and store design.

In 1994, Ford was promoted to creative director. In his first year at the helm, he was credited with putting the glamour back into fashion introducing Halston-style velvet hipsters, skinny satin shirts and car-finish metallic patent boots. In 1995, he brought in French stylist Carine Roitfeld and photographer Mario Testino to create a series of new, modern ad campaigns for the company. Between 1995 and 1996, sales at Gucci increased by 90%.

By 1999, the house, which had been almost bankrupt when Ford joined, was valued at about $4.3 billion. When Ford left in 2004, Gucci Group was valued at $10 billion.

In April 2005, Ford announced the creation of the TOM FORD brand. Ford was joined in this venture by former Gucci Group President and CEO Domenico De Sole who serves as Chairman of the company. In April 2007, his first directly-owned flagship store opened in New York at 845 Madison Avenue and coincided with the debut of the TOM FORD menswear and accessory collections.

Tom Ford is openly gay, and he and his partner, journalist Richard Buckley, have been together since 1986. Buckley was the former Editor in Chief of Vogue Hommes International. Buckley was diagnosed with cancer in 1989 and after his recovery the two moved from New York to Italy.




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