From getting naked to sweeping floors, get an insight into the fashion designer's school of life
If there’s anyone in this world whose notebook is worth taking a leaf out of then it’s designer, filmmaker, father and style icon Tom Ford. Editor-in-Chief Susannah Taylor was invited to a private audience with Mr F hosted by Get The Gloss writer Kinvara Balfour at the Apple store, to find out what makes him tick.
1. Have a good business head
In the 1980s, Tom was working in New York as a junior designer and he learnt very early on that ‘fashion is a commercial endeavor’, and the importance of ‘merchandising your collection as you were building it. You had to have a business head and a design sensibility.’
He described instances where people were frogmarched out of the building if their designs weren’t performing on the shop floor. “I wanted to make sure that didn’t happen to me,” he said. “I became very aware of ‘this is selling, that’s selling’.”
2. Get naked
From Mr F’s imagery, it’s clear to see that the man likes bare flesh. But what about himself? “I used to spend most of the time on my own naked, but now we have a child, it means I have a nanny and so I can’t come downstairs naked and have a bowl of cereal in the morning. Before I had a child I literally took off all my clothes the minute I walked through the door and that was that.” He went on to say that he always sleeps naked and couldn’t understand why the Brits sleep with clothes on.
3. Do what you feel compelled to do
A member of the audience asked Mr Ford “What is your why? Why do you get up in the morning, what drives you?”
He replied: “I like building things, it’s a compulsion and it’s what makes me happy. As a child I liked building things. You have to fulfill your destiny.”
4. Start from the bottom
“Everyone should be an intern,” said Mr Ford. “In today’s world, you can make a sex film and become a star overnight.” But he insisted on the importance of knowing what it’s like to work on basics in life and to understand a business from the ground up. “You should sweep floors, you should pick up pins. You should run errands because you learn so much.”
5. Think globally
“I consider myself an international designer. To function in the world today you have to think globally, and global culture is more and more united. I design for an international customer – they can be Russian shopping in New York, Japanese shopping in LA.”
6. Wear black
“Our number one sales product is black. Black for me is about sculpture, texture, fabric, shape. You lose colour, so you just have the shape, the body of the fabric, the difference between satin and velvet and those textures. For me that is very pure, very sculptural.”
7. Feel life
Karl Lagerfeld gave the young Mr Ford some amazing advice. “I was at a dinner party with Karl Lagerfeld in the 80s and 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 try to feel everything I do. It’s very hard.”
8. Don’t carry a mobile phone
“I don’t carry a cellphone as I am constantly on my computer, except there is a great app where I can monitor my son as he’s asleep at night so if I go out for dinner I know he’s fine.” Mr F admits to sleeping with his computer by his bed, and it being the first thing he reaches for in the morning.
9. Never ever wear anything you feel remotely uncomfortable in
Mr F says if something doesn’t make you feel good, don’t wear it. “It doesn’t matter if everyone is saying it’s all about this shoe or that shoulder – it doesn’t matter. If you put it on and it suits you and you feel good in it, that’s one thing. You should never ever be uncomfortable in your clothes as that’s what will project – you’ll be tentative, not your best.” Note, MR F doesn’t mean physical discomfort like a pair of his killer high heels; he means discomfort in terms of style and cut.
10. Wear yesterday’s dirty clothes at the weekend
Kinvara asked the question: “When you’re sitting at home, kicking back on the sofa eating Percy Pigs, are you in a monogrammed Tom Ford shell suit or are you in your dressing gown?”
“I am probably in the same suit which I will have picked up off the floor,” he replied.
“I don’t believe that for a second,” said Kinvara.
“Yeah! I just pick up dirty whatever from the night before.”
You heard it here first...