Tom Ford closed New York Fashion Week with a collection that builds on the singular belief that has underpinned his entire career: few things sell clothes like sex.
Nine months after canceling his last show following a Covid outbreak in his studio, the arch-provocateur from New York has transformed a former parquet floor just beyond the World Trade Center into a veritable disco assault. The hems were high, but somehow the heels were even higher. Good news for fans of Ford glamour; bad news for anyone hoping to wear the thing.
It was a show split into three: seek the day, seek the party, and seek the after party. It all started with Ford’s sportswear version – whether belt-width black and silver disco shorts, or lilac lamé low-rise tracksuits, could be considered marathon-friendly. These were followed by a new take on the Ford twinset featuring a pencil skirt and plunging neck blouse, a throwback to her beloved ’70s style that made her a hit at Gucci in the ’90s.
Then came suits, flared and fun in candy-colored metallics worn with very little else, and a brief interlude in which five models got to showcase her new line of panties — or rather, lace scrims. There were versions for him and versions for her.
The final section was more Oscars-friendly, with the Hadid sisters closing the show in jaw-dropping sequin and jewel dresses paired with crescent-sized sequin earrings. Menswear was minimal, though a pink Barbie suit won first prize for wearability from the red carpet. The atmosphere was very glamorous, Studio 54 revamped for Gen Z, with a soundtrack by Robert Palmer and Dead or Alive. The hair was curly, exaggerated and very high.
Few designers are driven by ostentatious luxury quite like Tom Ford – both on his own label, which he launched with menswear only in 2006, and during his drastic makeover at Gucci, when he repurposed Halston-esque dresses, plunging necklines and the concept of cutouts on 90s clothing.
No longer “that guy from Texas” by the time he left Gucci in 2004, he has since become one of fashion’s most in-demand designers. In 2019, he became president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (he recently stepped down), a tenure that overlapped almost entirely with the pandemic. Her label was valued at $3 billion, according to Business of Fashion.
While diverse and enduring, New York Fashion Week was noticeably lacking in body diversity. Plus-size models Paloma Elsesser, Devyn Garcia and Precious Lee have been on virtually every other catwalk except this one.
Still, Ford’s ability to monetize extreme sex appeal means his fans know what to expect. Tom Ford became as famous as the people he dresses (Brad Pitt, Jay Z and Keira Knightley are brand loyal) and his after-show arc, for which he wore one of his bespoke suits , caused a frenzy of whoops.
If the collection was meant to shock, it worked. If it was meant to amuse, it was also. And the front row, which included singer Madonna, actor Katie Holmes and a rare appearance by comedian Chris Rock, managed to look both shocked and amused.