Tom Ford

"I am a perfectionist," declared Tom Ford, the designer who gave Gucci a new lease of life, and is now launching his own super-luxe menswear range. "This job is a total ego thing in a way. To be a designer and say, 'This is the way [people] should dress, this is the way their homes should look, this is the way the world should be.' But then, that's the goal: world domination through style."

Born in Texas in 1962, Tom spent his teenage years in Santa Fe, New Mexico, before securing a place at New York University. It was there he discovered the seminal Studio 54 nightclub, where he met pop artist Andy Warhol for the first time. From then on, school was out and partying was in, in, in. Signing up as a model at one point he had no fewer than 12 TV commercials running at the same time he dropped out of NYU after his freshman year, and then changed tack, choosing to study environmental design at Parsons instead.

But his fascination with the subject waned and, just before graduating, he decided fashion was the thing for him. Although he had no problems getting jobs at Chloe and Perry Ellis, Tom didn't make a name for himself in the business until he relocated to Europe and landed a position with Gucci. Tom's partner, journalist Richard Buckley, had become ill with cancer and, after he was given the all-clear at the start of the Nineties, the two decided to leave the stress of New York behind and head for Italy.

The handsome Texan worked his way up to head of design, and although his first effort in October 1994 didn't win him any plaudits, the following year's collection was a different story. Gucci fashion had not just been made over, it had received a radical facelift. Out went the clothes for traditional socialites, in came the jet-set look - and Hollywood sat up and took note.

Essentially a monochrome man - his Paris apartment has been described as a three-dimensional photographic negative Tom brings a hard-edged look synonymous with 21st-century glamour to his clothes. In 2000, the Gucci group added Yves Saint Laurent to their stable and, unsurprisingly, Tom's first collection for the French label was a study in black and white.

In 2004 Tom and chief executive Domenico De Sole made a shock departure from the Italian brand and left the fashion world wondering what he'd do next. The sexy designer revealed at the time that he'd set his sights on Hollywood. But while movie-making might still be in the pipeline, it's clear that he can't stay away from the day job.

He's since been busy developing his own brand and signed multi-million dollar deals with eyewear company Marcolin and Estee Lauder to produce sunglasses and a make-up range under his name, as well as a fragrance for men. The man with the golden touch is also due to launch a hotly-anticipated eponymous menswear collection. Whether his future is films or fashion, his fans can be guaranteed that he'll be stylish about it.
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