I’m currently reading André Leon Talley’s phenomenal “The Chiffon Trenches: A Memoir“, and I came across his account of Tom Ford‘s first runway collection coming from his own, name-sake label. The author recalled the event in the most ethereal way. And as it happened about ten years ago (and this is the reason why it’s the first proper post of 2021!), I was surprised I didn’t really have any image in my mind from that spectacular line-up, until Talley noted the whole event was kept mostly in a secret, and the only photographer allowed was Terry Richardson. Thankfully, some photos and this delightful video coverage are present on the web. So, spring-summer 2011 was Ford’s first big come-back to runway after his days at Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent. At the beginning of September, 2010, under the cloak of secrecy, he hosted an intimate cocktail party-slah-fashion-show at his menswear store on Madison Avenue. Luminary friends such as Julianne Moore, Lisa Eisner, Rita Wilson, Marisa Berenson, Daphne Guinness and Lou Doillon all sashayed down the runway, as did Ford model favorites Daria Werbowy, Liya Kebede (who Ford made a supermodel), Amber Valletta and the late Stella Tennant. Somehow, he even got Beyoncé to shimmy down the runway in a body-clinging, sparkle-laden gown. “Beyoncé in real life is actually quite quiet and very sweet,” Ford told Harper’s Bazaar back in the day. “But she can really turn it on.” Ford controlled the entire presentation, as in the days of intimate salon presentations, right down to the music volume, introducing every girl by name and describing her outfit in detail. For added amusement, he catcalled a few of them, teased Eisner for walking too quickly, told model Joan Smalls she might have turned him straight, and then told Beyoncé she definitely did. While many thought the show was a flashback to Parisian couture shows, Ford said the impetus for the show’s format was much more curious and much more camp. “I was on the train from London to Paris, and all of a sudden it just popped into my head: I’m going to do the Don Loper fashion show from ‘I Love Lucy’,” Ford explained. That particular episode, shot in Los Angeles with real Hollywood wives (Dean Martin’s and William Holden’s among them), is a classic: Lucy wants a covetable Don Loper dress she can’t afford. But lo and behold, Loper is doing a fashion show (which he narrates himself) and asks Lucy to model. She sits by the pool too long in hopes of achieving a perfect California bronze but ends up badly sunburned, “and she gets a tweed outfit and she can barely walk. It’s all very cute and everyone claps,” explains Ford. Of course, his 2010 version was more sexy than cute, and instead of claps he got a standing ovation. The casting was intentional. “I chose these models because I knew them. I designed these things thinking of them,” he explains. Following the Oscars, he thrust himself into designing the collection, using a mental list of about 30 women he would love to dress: “women I find inspirational and who are archetypes,” Ford says. “My collection each season should have something that a woman in her 60s, who is still stylish and lived through the Charlie era, could wear, so Lauren Hutton gets that look. There’s something someone of Rachel Feinstein’s size should wear and something for someone who is extravagant and shops at a bunch of vintage stores, like Lisa Eisner, should wear.” The incredible, magnetic Tom Ford.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.