“Tom Ford was Tom Fording it hard,” one of my Instagram followers put it, commenting on the spring 2023 collection that capped off New York Fashion Week.
And why shouldn’t he? Ford was doing ‘90s sensual minimalism, near nudity, psychedelia and Western-wear glam before the designers copying him now were even born.
He’s still a fashion magnet. Multiple generations of stars — including Madonna, Lourdes Leon and Rocco Ritchie, Brooklyn Peltz Beckham and Nicola Peltz Beckham, Pat and Anna Cleveland, Chris Rock, Ciara, Russell Westbrook and Dixie D’Amelio — came to an office building in the Financial District on a Wednesday night, rode the elevators to the third floor, and sipped skinny margs while waiting for his show to start in a mixing and mingling scene resembling a Vanity Fair Oscars party.
Ford brought the fun on the runway, too, tweaking his hedonism for today’s customers wanting to live it up all night, and giving the Gen Z/Millennials what they want—streetwear and sex.
First, the designer leaned into his L.A.-ness with a cocktail of casual with a vintage feel.
Instead of the Gucci, feathered and embellished jeans of yore, he showed star and heart sequin-embroidered military shorts and crystal-encrusted fishnet T-shirts, leather dolphin shorts and nipple-baring cutout bras, lamé blazers (with throwback cinch clips) and embroidered Western shirts in the style of cowboy couturier Nudie Cohen, who designed clothes for Gene Autry, Gram Parsons and Cher, among others.
Ford served up fetish wear in a commercial way, nodding to today’s gender fluidity with black leather jackets galore, lacy triangle bras and Tom Ford logo thongs for everyone.
Black leather-and-lace slip skirts and lingerie-look dresses were sexy, as were black mesh bodycon gowns draped to conceal and reveal. Menswear, from a pink retro-looking suit to metallic leopard and zebra stripe-patterned lamé suits, also had an easy party-time glamour.
Ford has always loved a diva, whether it was Diana Ross, who inspired an entire collection while he was at Saint Laurent, or Beyoncé. This season’s were the Hadid sisters, hair frizzed out, in sequined midriff-baring halter gowns with matching supersized sequin hoop earrings, ready to go all night.
The show was also bittersweet. A line in one of the songs, “Time stops for no one,” brought to mind the loss last September of Ford’s longtime partner, fashion editor Richard Buckley. Ending the show with a bride carrying a gold bouquet of flowers seemed like an ode to love.
Ford is said to be looking for a buyer for his brand. In the front row, potential suitors from Estée Lauder Cos., which holds the longtime license for Tom Ford Beauty — a major pillar of his, and their, businesses — were circling.
The executives might have been nonplussed by the flashy-trashy collection, but they shouldn’t be. Walking the line between raunchy and refined has always been part of Ford’s M.O., and what drives his beauty and eyewear sales. As much as some in the fashion crowd may long for a return to a more studied elegance, very few people want to dress like that anymore. It’s casual or red carpet. And Ford nailed both.