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When we hear the name “Tom Ford,” we immediately think of high end fashion and timeless, classic elegance—but before he was a world-renowned fashion designer, Tom Ford was actually an architecture major. Surprised? As it turns out, there’s a lot you probably don’t know about Tom Ford’s past that has helped to shape him into the designer and person he is today.
Early Life and Educational Background
Tom Ford was born on August 27, 1961, making him 55 years old. He spent his childhood between suburban Texas and New Mexico, switching schools fairly often due to family moves. At the age of 16, Tom dropped out of a four-year liberal arts college in order to study art history at New York University. After about a year, Ford left NYU to pursue an acting career, appearing in several TV commercials. He then began studying interior architecture at Parsons, and in his third year, spent time in Paris working as an intern for French luxury fashion house, Chloé. Tom ultimately graduated with an architecture degree, yet his interest in fashion took center stage and propelled him headfirst into the industry as a serious designer.
Out of school, Tom tried persistently to secure a job in the industry, eventually earning a spot as Cathy Hardwick’s design assistant. Tom spent two years there, and then a subsequent two at Perry Ellis, working under Marc Jacobs. Soon after, Tom Ford expressed that he wanted to leave the American fashion scene behind and pursue designing overseas in Europe, where he would feel less inhibited as a designer.
Career and Success
Freshly motivated and seeking employment, Ford relocated to Italy, where he joined then-struggling Italian fashion house, Gucci. He quickly excelled as a menswear designer and helped take the brand out of obscurity, though his personal creative vision often clashed with the company’s chairman, Maurizio Gucci. Nevertheless, the designer was promoted to Creative Director of Gucci, as well as the later-acquired house of Yves Saint Laurent just a few years later. From there, Ford’s career exploded.
In just a few short months following his new title, Ford introduced various shirts, boots, and other new luxury items to the label. He also worked on advertising campaigns that helped take both brands out of the road to financial ruin and back into the attention of mainstream media. Ford eventually left Gucci after having poured his heart and soul into the brand for fifteen years, following inconsolable conflicts with CEO Domenico de Sole.
Tom Ford Today + Controversies
The unfortunate, yet pivotal events that surrounded Ford leaving Gucci are what helped push him to create his own self-titled label. Tom Ford today is known for creating stunning structural designs that expertly mesh his architectural background with his clear knack for classic beauty. Outside of design, Ford is also known for directing several films, as well as being in the spotlight for controversies surrounding questionable advertising that used nudity to display his designs. Ford has been known to use sexually-charged imagery and provocative statements in his advertising, and has faced considerable backlash in the media as a result.
Tom Ford’s designs are well-respected and widely embraced around the world. His ability to design and produce consistent, relevant “It” pieces, talent for being a brand visionary, and innovative artistic mind are what solidify Ford’s designs in past, present, and future fashion headlines.