Designer Tom Ford returns to colour

Tom Ford.
Tom Ford.

MILAN • "Classics" said designer Tom Ford, looking out over his showroom.

"We make classic menswear. That's what I like on men."

Directly in front of him was a display of evening jackets: one in a Pucci-esque swirl of psychedelic greens, another in an electric shade of pink.

A few models were circling the room, some outfitted for evening, one in an animal-print swimsuit small enough to ball up in your fist.

Ford is returning to colour.

He had been in a neutral mood the past few seasons, but now colour is back, often shown in the tone-on-tone style he prefers.

"It's a very sort of 1970s thing to do," he said.

A look from the Tom Ford Spring 2018 men's collection.
A look from the Tom Ford Spring 2018 men’s collection. PHOTO: NYTIMES

"There was, in the 1970s, a moment when even a few luxury companies used to sell a tonal shirt and tie together in a plastic box. I love that."

He himself, as usual, was in his customary dark palette. "I don't wear these kinds of colours," he noted.

"You have to learn what works on you."

His clients, on the other hand, are open to the full range of possibilities, from the boardroom-restrained to the ballroom-fabulous.

Whatever the style, it leans towards the lavish.

Ford not only showed tennis shoes, but also pool slide sandals in velvet - an ornamental if not strictly functional touch, since velvet is a fabric you might want to keep at some distance from the pool.

"I don't know," he said, when a reporter offered that observation.

"I wear velvet all the time."

Ford, 55, is not an uninterrupted presence in Milan, as some of his contemporaries are.

He has hopscotched around the fashion weeks of the world, showing his menswear and his womenswear sometimes by appointment, sometimes at runway shows, in different cities and different timeframes.

He experimented with the "buy now, wear now" model of showing clothes on the runway in season and making them immediately available, which, he said, "unfortunately didn't work".

And although he said that he maintained focus on his collections throughout, he spent much of the past few years absorbed by his second film Nocturnal Animals, which was released last year. The psychological thriller featured Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal.

Ford made his directorial debut in 2009 with A Single Man, starring Colin Firth and Julianne Moore.

The next fashion spectacle from Ford will have to wait until his next women's runway show in New York in September.

His runway shows tend to be as star-studded as his movie premieres.

For now, for men, there are the classics, dialled up. He makes a full wardrobe - suits (business, swim), casual wear, jeans, glasses, boots, shoes and 39 fragrances, with timepieces to come in autumn.

"There's not really a thing for men we don't make," said Ford, who will also make his fashion case for underwear next spring.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 26, 2017, with the headline 'Designer Tom Ford returns to colour'. Print Edition | Subscribe