View Slideshow

NEW YORK — He’s still got it. A throng of eager fans waited on line for up to an hour at Bergdorf Goodman on Wednesday night to have their “Tom Ford” books autographed by the designer.

Media heavyweights Graydon Carter, Anna Wintour and Stefano Tonchi made their way through the crowds to greet Ford, who diligently signed copies of his mammoth black tome for two straight hours. There are two editions of the book — black bound for $125 and a deluxe version at $350.

Dressed in his signature black, and surrounded by a fortress of bodyguards, Ford was meticulous about letting the white marker he was using (on the black pages) dry artfully before he shut each and every copy and handed it back to the thankful owner. Clearly the personal appearance worked.

“We sold 250 books, which was beyond,” said Robert Burke, Bergdorf’s vice president and senior fashion director. “It goes to show that Tom is a pro. There are only a few of them in the fashion industry and that coupled with his loyal following made for an outstanding night.”

Of course, given Ford’s penchant for naughtiness, it comes as no surprise that he found himself signing not only his book, but artist Tracey Moffat’s ample chest, too.

“Tom loves me, he loves my art,” said Moffat. “One time at Christmas he sent me black python boots. To this day I still can’t walk in them, but I’ve always wanted to have sex in them.”

The young designer contingent of Francisco Costa, Peter Som and Zac Posen turned up to show their support.

“Whatever he does next, he’ll explode,” predicted Costa. As for a return to fashion, Costa replied, “Why not? He made fashion.”

Som concurred. “He revolutionized fashion. He put sex in the industry when it needed it most.”

Ford is on a veritable media blitz promoting the book. There have been articles in the latest W magazine, WWD’s sister publication, and in last Sunday’s New York Times Style section. This week Ford appeared on “Good Morning America” and “Charlie Rose.” He also gave a revealing interview in the latest GQ, in which the writer Michael Hainey quotes Ford in what appears to be naughty overtures. Reached Thursday, Hainey described Ford’s reaction to the quotes: “He told me he laughed out loud at it. I wouldn’t say he was pissed. You’re talking about a guy who controlled his image for 10 years.”

This story first appeared in the October 22, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

And was Ford enjoying his return to the limelight? Perhaps less than one would assume. “People think that he loves to have his picture taken and loves giving interviews, but I’m the outgoing one. I’m the one who’ll go to any party,” remarked Richard Buckley, Ford’s partner. “It’s harder for Tom.”

Before the rest of his book tour continues, Ford is jetting off to the Canadian estate of Lawrence Stroll, head of A&G Group and Sportswear Holdings, for the weekend and is looking forward to dressing up. “I look good in tweed,” laughed Ford. Who knew he had any? “I have a custom-made riding outfit.”

The turbulence at Gucci Group continues in the wake of Ford’s departure, with the termination of Gucci chief executive officer Giacomo Santucci (a holdover from the Ford-De Sole years), but Ford declined to share his views on the departure on Wednesday. “I’m no longer with Gucci. My comments don’t matter.”