By  on June 24, 2008

MILAN — Tom Ford's new flagship here in Italy's fashion capital marks a homecoming of sorts.

"I love Milan and I feel at home here," the former creative director of Gucci Group, who moved to Milan in 1994, said Monday. "When [he and his partner, Richard Buckley] lived here for four years, we had tons of friends, a sweet apartment and went skiing on the weekends."

In town to inaugurate his first directly operated European outpost, the designer said he still orders fusilli alle erbe (pasta with a tomato and herb sauce) at Le Langhe and still uses Tino, his driver for 14 years, to get around. But most importantly, he's convinced the store, geared toward a Milanese clientele, will perform well from a business standpoint, though he declined to discuss sales projections.

"Milan is the capital of men's wear, and men here understand how a button-down should work and things that, in America, people don't know," he noted. "It's in their culture."

As for a future women's line, Ford said he thinks about it continually, but if the project were ever to materialize, it would be in two to three years' time. "Logistically, I couldn't be able to tackle it right now because it would mean an atelier of 50 sewing women, separate offices, separate design teams and separate stores in the same locations," he said. "And I'm really not sure if I'm ready to do women's."

The new men's wear store on Via Verri is different, yet similar to the New York unit. "It's more contemporary than New York, which is in a 1930s building," he said during a walk-through. "We used the same vocabulary and colors, but this one is housed in a Fascist building so it's more linear and modern."

Measuring nearly 12,000 square feet over five floors, the Milan store is Ford's largest to date, though the designer stressed that he doesn't want to go any larger. "I don't want department stores, but it's tricky when you have so many things you want to show and properly develop all the categories," he said.The no-fuss gray Carrara marble lobby features a piece of work by German artist Anselm Reyle that belonged to Ford's collection. The glass showcase ensconces a wide black shimmering ribbon folded and ruched to a graphic effect. The perfumery area houses a new, Seventies-inspired fragrance called Italian Cypress that is exclusive to Milan and the new White Patchouli women's fragrance by Tom Ford Fragrances, the Estée Lauder Cos. division, that launched Monday.

After much speculation, the designer also confirmed that he will clothe Daniel Craig in the upcoming James Bond movie, "Quantum of Solace," with made-to-measure suits, eveningwear, shirts and knitwear. The film will be released in November.

The rest of the store is dedicated to shirting, ready-to-wear, made-to-order, accessories, sportswear (a technical ski line is in the works) and other categories.

The store features Kenya black marble, macassar wood, floor-to-ceiling mirrors, silk velvet and gray suede. Objects that personalize the ambience include a couple of Forties shell-shaped wooden chairs that belonged to Franco Zeffirelli, a decorative rock crystal in the fireplace and a 16th-century marble urn.

Eleven more openings are on tap over the next few months, including units in Saint Moritz, Moscow, Hong Kong, Las Vegas, San Francisco and Dubai.

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