From high school chic to Studio 54 glam and from being a fashion newbie filled with aspirations to becoming a powerful professional who shaped modern fashion the way only a few have managed to shape it up until today. Tom Ford’s rise to success and fame did not happen randomly. The fashion mogul looks back at some of the most emblematic milestones of his career and what he has to say is particularly interesting.
During his tenure at Gucci, Tom Ford was one of the first designers to explore the allure of androgynous style. His iconic red velvet suit worn by Gwyneth Paltrow in 1996 (recently revived by Alessandro Michele) was a historic paradigm of fashion’s ability to dress women in men’s clothes, thus paving the way for today’s stylistic fluidity. Meanwhile, Ford’s provocative ad campaigns, always showing more skin than usual, always extending the limits of what is deemed acceptable, have heavily influenced fashion advertising along with the culture of visual communication in general. Tom Ford’s friendship with Karl Lagerfeld is a testament to his love for perfection, a tendency which he indulges in both as a top designer and as a film director.
Judging by some of Ford’s latest designs, like the custom metallic breast plates worn by Zendaya or the glossy fitted suit Timothée Chalamet wore last year at the Cannes Film Festival, Tom Ford is more than ready to take on fashion’s new challenges like a pro. After all, to be genius is to be timeless.
The Formula One Grand Prix, the Monte Carlo Casino, Grace Kelly, Helmut Newton’s iconic photos and Karl Lagerfeld’s long friendship with Princess Caroline of Monaco and her family: the lore of Monte Carlo and CHANEL’s special relationship with it (the first CHANEL subsidiary opened there in 1913) played a key part in Virginie Viard’s inspiration, while she prepared the house’s latest Resort collection. What CHANEL’s creative director had in mind was a sort of “flippant buoyancy”. Clothes with a nonchalant attitude, heavily influenced by retro glamour and steeped in pop culture.
The show began with a series of chic coveralls embroidered with sequins, evoking a Charlie’s Angels vibe. Chiffon skirts with waving starter flag prints and tweed jumpsuits resembling car mechanics’ workwear paid tribute to the culture of races and fast cars, while checked patterns graced everything from fluttering dresses to swimsuits, shorts and blazers. Striped shirtdresses with sailing boat motifs, bags shaped like crash helmets, biker jackets, cricket sweaters and a pink-and-white gingham windbreaker covered in faux team badges complemented the display, along with a series of mini and long dresses, both in wool-knit and in airy cotton or lace. Details like the bouquets of silk flowers, the feather fronds and the floral embroideries express CHANEL’s dedication to intricate design and valuable artisan houses such as Lemarié, Lesage and Montex.
The overall atmosphere of the show was that of a summer promise. Set within the emblematic Monte-Carlo Beach Hotel, it was bound to bring out feelings of carefree leisure and nostalgia: “'To me, Monaco is a matter of feelings above all,” says Viard. “I will never forget the times I spent there: terraces and balconies, big umbrellas, baskets of flowers – so much beauty.” Beauty, indeed. What everything comes down to, eventually.