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Tom Ford - Biography

The fashion designer is also a Hollywood director


A close-up photo of Tom Ford
Updated: July 19, 2023
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Early Career

Born in Texas in 1962, Tom Ford 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. 

Tom Ford posing on the red carpet© David M. Benett
Tom Ford also made waves in fashion

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. 

Fashion Career

The handsome Texan worked his way up to the 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. 

Tom Ford with Anna Wintour, Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds© Matt Winkelmeyer/MG22
Tom is a fashion legend

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. He launched his eponymous luxury brand, Tom Ford Brand,  in 2005. The company sky-rocketed in  2006 when the designer graced the cover of Vanity Fair wearing Tom Ford Brand menswear, alongside  Keira Knightley and Scarlett Johansson, both of whom posed nude. 

Film Career

Tom didn't stop with fashion and in 2009 took Hollywood by storm with his debut film, A Single Man, starring Colin Firth and Julianne Moore.  His debut project won plaudits from critics alike. Colin went on to win an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor and the designer-cum-director an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best First Screenplay.

In 2016 he wrote, co-produced, and directed Nocturnal Animals, a chilling psychological thriller. The film starred Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal and earned him Golden Globe nomination for Best Director.

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