Wednesday 9 April 2014

An Audience With Tom Ford

On Monday evening (7th April) I attended the Apple Store in Regent Street, London for the 'Tom Ford In Conversation With Kinvara Balfour' event. The Designer and film director, internationally renowned for his turnaround of Gucci and launching his own label, Tom Ford, as well as directing Oscar-nominated 'A Single Man' discussed both his personal life and career with Kinvara, whilst giving the audience several opportunities to ask questions. It was a very informative, inspirational and entertaining evening, as the fashion god discussed with the audience what I can only describe as his rise to the top!

I went to the event with an open mind and didn't know what to expect. I was intrigued as to how he managed to make his career go from strength to strength, how he secured great opportunities with both YSL and Gucci in the 1990s, his thoughts on Jay-Z's single 'Tom Ford' and his several different business ventures. The night kicked off with a short clip of some of the designers greatest works; it was clear to see what all the fuss was about. As he confidently approached the stage, in his sharp black suit and crisp white shirt, unsurprisingly the audience applauded loudly - and rightly so. 

For the very few who aren't aware, the designer - commonly known as a creative genius, is famous for what I can only describe as sexual, sensual and jaw dropping designs in both mens and womanswear, luggage, footwear, jewellery, eye wear and beauty (hmm... I'm sure I've forgotten something). Come to think of it, there's little that the designer hasn't ventured into. With over 100 stores worldwide, describing himself as an artist as oppose to a fashion designer, continuously featured on the front of many top magazines, including the likes of Vogue, GQ, Vanity Fair and Esquire - the London based American has the fashion world in awe. 

The 52 year old Texas born spoke of how he wasn't the most vocational of students in his early life, though he studied architecture it wasn't until he secured an internship with Chloe that he realised fashion is what he loves. Hyping up his credentials - as he had little experience prior, Tom Ford managed to secure work with Gucci - which is where his career really took off. The acquisition of YSL in the early 90's enabled the designer to increase his expertise, as he secured the role of creative director! He shared with us that he knew his time at Gucci and YSL wouldn't be forever, so he got his name out there, to the industry, with the work he done. He never intended on having his own company, in fact he was burned out at Gucci YSL which led to an early retirement, though merely 3 months later he decided to launch his own label, self named 'Tom Ford'. 

Loved and adorned on the bodies of celebrities such as David Beckham, Daniel Craig, Kate Moss, Madona, first lady Michelle Obama and power couple Beyonce and Jay-Z... Kinvara asked the designer of his thoughts on Jay-Z's single 'Tom Ford'. In what seemed like a humble but very confident response, the designer shared that he was surprised when Jay-Z called him up to let him know that he was releasing a single titled Tom Ford. He was aware that Jay-Z liked the brand, as both he and (more recently) wife Beyonce have been wearing Tom Ford for several years.Though the song wasn't what he expected and admittedly he had to go online in order to decipher the lyrics, in order to find out what it all meant - he felt lucky, as he shared with the audience that in the business of a brand it's "one of the best things that can happen to you"; Free promotion and thousands of people screaming your name at concerts - what's not to love. 

Have a listen... warning contains lyrics some may find offensive. 

Asked by a member of the audience for style advice, the designer stressed never wear anything that you are not comfortable in. He spoke of mental comfort and the way in which how you feel in certain clothing can knock your confidence, affecting how you look. Something I guess many of us have all gone through at least once in life. Additionally he shared with us his love for all things black, though spoke of his concern about how black garments are not shown in their full glory online, as often it's beauty is lost. Sculpture, texture, fabric and shape are all elements which contribute to good design, especially when it comes to black garments.

Before closing the show, asked whether he considers himself a British designer since he resides in the UK, the designer reiterated that he is neither an American designer nor a British designer, but rather an international designer. He decided to move to London as eccentricity is celebrated here, fashion is celebrated in London. With that I felt both proud and honoured to have a style icon and fashion god recognise London in such a way. Whilst the final clips showing the designer's works played on the screens, I reflected on the event - how worthwhile it was and how inspirational his journey has been and I' sure will continue to be. 


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