By  on October 21, 2005

PARIS — Trust Tom Ford to inject more than a wink of sexiness into his new collection of sunglasses, to be unveiled today at the Silmo trade fair here.

"It's a very potent accessory," Ford said in an exclusive interview on Thursday. "You can be completely naked — and I know people will think I only talk about nudity — but you can put on a pair of eyeglasses and look like the Fifties, you can look like the Seventies or you can look like the Nineties."

Or you can look like a porn star.

In fact, Ford cast two of them, a woman and a man, for the advertising campaign, shot by art photographer Jeff Burton in Los Angeles — and no clothes were called in for the shoot. It is slated to break in January publications worldwide.

"It's quite sexy," Ford said, noting, however, that the pictures are close-ups and Burton's forte is to slyly suggest what is going on outside the frame.

The eyewear, with Italy's Marcolin Group, is one of Ford's first forays back into the fashion world since exiting as creative director of Gucci Group 18 months ago. He is working with Estée Lauder Cos. to update its Youth Dew fragrance, which is being launched for holiday, and is developing an eponymous Tom Ford fragrance and cosmetics collection, due to be introduced next year. A full men's wear launch under the Tom Ford brand is planned for 2006.

First shipments of Tom Ford sunglasses are expected in late November or early December, starting in about 60 U.S. department store doors and 700 to 800 eyewear shops in Europe, according to Maurizio Marcolin, chief executive officer.

On Thursday, Ford confessed he chose eyewear for his nascent Tom Ford brand partly because "when I finally decided to come back to fashion, I didn't know how deep I wanted to get into it."

But Ford dove headfirst into the project, since eyewear is a personal passion and one of his favorite things to design.

"For a man, it's almost the only fashion accessory you can have," he said. "For a woman, eyewear has the same power as shoes."

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