LONDON — During an event at the Apple Store here Monday night, Tom Ford talked about fashion, movies — and marriage, directing films, the fashion industry and life with his young son — and revealed that he and his longtime partner Richard Buckley are now married.
While Ford is widely acknowledged as an authority on what constitutes a luxury lifestyle, the designer said he has a surprisingly low-key definition of the term. “[It’s] sleep, a great bed and not receiving a single e-mail,” he told British style journalist Kinvara Balfour in their discussion.
This story first appeared in the April 9, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
He also chatted about how his toddler son, Alexander, has taken on some of his fastidiousness. “He lays [his toys] out, it’s so genius,” said Ford. “He’s so organized. I don’t know where it came from,” he said with a laugh.
But he admitted that the arrival of a nanny in his and his husband Richard Buckley’s household had meant a rethink of his off-duty wear. “I can’t come downstairs naked and have a bowl of cereal in the morning, so I get dressed,” he said. “Before I had a child, I literally took off all my clothes the minute I walked in the door and that was that.”
A hands-on father, Ford noted that he carries a cell phone for the sole purpose of keeping a watchful eye on his son. “There is an app [on which] I can watch my son sleep at night so, if I’m out to dinner, I can watch if he’s sleeping fine. That’s the only reason I carry it around,” he said.
Ford revealed during the conversation that he and Buckley were now married. “I lost so many friends in college,” said Ford, musing on the couple’s decision to formalize their partnership. “I would say more than half of my closest friends. Richard, my partner of 27 years, had also gone through something also quite tough in his life. We are now married, which is nice. I know that was just made legal in the U.K. which is great; we were married in the States.”
He mused on the expectations of young people coming into the fashion industry. “I think this is the problem today — people come out of school and think they should immediately be a star,” said Ford. “In this world, of course you can make a sex video and you can become a star. But I think everyone should be an intern — you should sweep floors, you should pick up pins. You should run errands because you learn so much,” he said.
As to his own career, the designer noted that he hopes more films are on the horizon. “I’d be very sad if I don’t make more films,” said Ford, whose award-winning movie “A Single Man” was released in 2009. “I have a few I could do, if I had the time to shoot them.” Indeed, Ford describes “A Single Man” as “the most artistic thing I have ever done.” In contrast, in terms of the fashion industry, the designer describes himself as “a fashion designer but also a businessman. Some designers consider themselves artists, such as Alexander McQueen who was a true artist. I am not an artist,” he said. That said, Ford described all his creative endeavors as “a compulsion.” “[My work is] what makes me happy and if I’m not doing it, I feel unfulfilled.”
When it comes to his take on perfection, Ford noted: “Things are never quite good enough, never quite there. Good enough means you’ve given it your best and said everything you want to say.” Recalling his time at Gucci, Ford revealed advice that Karl Lagerfeld had given him on how he experienced his success. “I was at a dinner with Karl Lagerfeld,” said Ford. “Things had gone quite well rapidly for me at Gucci and everything was on its way up, and I said, ‘Karl, I don’t feel anything, I’m not feeling any of this.’ He said, ‘You will, you’ll feel it later when you look back at it.’ It’s true, now I look back at that time and think ‘God, I didn’t really feel it, I should have felt it more.’ I’m very aware of that today and trying to feel everything that I do.”
While Ford might be high-profile, he said he’s actually “really shy” and prefers to “crawl under a rock” when it comes to fame. As to Jay Z naming a song after him, Ford said: “What really freaks me out is when he’s at a giant stadium and performs it and there’s 60,000 people screaming your name. If you’re in the business of a brand it’s one of the best things that could happen to you.”
Discussing style, Ford noted that he decided to base his brand in London for its offbeat style heritage. “Eccentricity is celebrated here in Britain — you have a history of peacocks,” he said. “Men’s style today is descended from traditional Anglo style,” he said. “It’s all about a certain shoulder, a certain look.”
As to his style advice for the audience? “Never, ever, ever wear anything you are uncomfortable in,” Ford said. “Because that is what you’ll project: ‘I look like a fool.’ Even if you don’t, you’ll be tentative and not your best. I don’t mean physical comfort, I don’t mind suffering a little bit,” he said. “My pants are little tight today because I’ve been eating too many Percy Pigs,” he admitted, referring to the cult Marks & Spencer candy.