In the year In 2016, Tom Ford told the Financial Times that he was “determined” to turn his iconic beauty, eyewear and fashion company into a $3 billion business by 2025.
He showed no sign, but he came close. On Tuesday, Estee Lauder Companies announced the acquisition of the Tom Ford brand in a deal valued at $2.8 billion. The sale is set to make Ford, 61, a billionaire, having turned Gucci into a fashion powerhouse before founding his iconic company in 2005.
It could also mark Ford’s going out of fashion. Zegna has agreed to expand its license for Tom Ford menswear to include womenswear, children’s clothing and accessories, while Marcolin has significantly extended its license for Tom Ford eyewear, ELC said. But Ford and chairman Domenico de Sol agreed to stay until the end of next year.
“He was not willing to participate anymore [the end of 2023]” said a source familiar with the negotiations. “He is no longer interested in fashion.”
Friends and former colleagues noted that Ford’s interests had long since migrated to Hollywood, where he directed two critically acclaimed films. A single person (2009) and Nocturnal animals (2016) Became Chairman of the Council of Fashion Designers of America in May 2017, based in LA. “There’s not much grace in it. [fashion] In the year He told the FTF in 2016. “It seems to have grown to the point where there’s not a lot of respect for the designer. And that is very sad.”
“I feel like fashion is ‘over’. What other proof could he have? ” said Whitney Bromberg Hawkings, who worked with him for 20 years. “It’s the sexy outlet. It’s not hanging.”
Ford’s celebrity has long since passed from the unknown world of fashion. His impeccably dressed, casual, and uniform white shirt, black tie, gold pin, and single-breasted peaked skirt are a surprise. Former employees describe him as “incredibly accurate”, “annoying about everything”, “silly”, “funny”, “crazy smart”, “kind” and “the hardest working human being in the world”. It brings strong loyalty, many of its employees have been working for decades.
Anna Wintour wrote in an email: “Tom’s great success is because he’s every bit as glamorous and movie-star-like as he is designed to be.” “His own personal account was always as charming as the houses he worked in – although behind all the charm was a very loyal and kind friend, an extremely hard-working man with a bad sense of humour.”
“He was driven,” said Steven Kolb, who worked with him at the CFDA. “You can’t be Tom Ford and sell a business for $2.3 billion [in upfront payments] If you are not sure about what you want in life.
Ford was born in Austin, Texas in 1961, the son of two real estate brokers. His interest in fashion appeared early: his peers teased him for showing up to school in blazers, loafers and an attaché case. Ford moved to New York in 1979 to study art history at New York University, dropping out a year later to pursue acting in LA. He returned to enroll on an interior architecture course but quickly switched to fashion, working at sportswear label Cathy Hardwick and then Perry Ellis under Marc Jacobs. In the year In 1990, he moved to Milan to design womenswear at Gucci and was promoted to creative director four years later.
The Autumn/Winter 1995 collection heralded a dramatic new direction for a leather goods house mired in financial turmoil. It was tough to be Ford Fashion’s “it” designer when Madonna appeared in one of the highlights of her collection at the MTV Video Music Awards.
In the year In 2004, Gucci became the Gucci Group and Ford managed a $10 billion portfolio that included Yves Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta and Stella McCartney. But contract negotiations with the team’s new owners, the Pinout family, went awry and Ford pulled out that year. The day he found out he and Gucci had broken up, he took Hawking to see “Love” at noon in Leicester Square and “we cried our hearts out,” she recalls.
“I had no voice in the culture of the day,” Ford recalled of that time. “I had a really powerful voice in the ’90s, and I had an identity that I worked really hard to find. And suddenly I didn’t have that, and I didn’t really know what to do.”
In 2006, he leased an office in Chelsea for the advanced beauty business he launched with Estee Lauder. Followed by more, with lipsticks, priced at $48 at the time, and a full makeup range.
“It’s done fantastically,” said Lana Todorovic, president of luxury retailer Neiman Marcus. “He came up with an interesting idea [that was missing in beauty]He said. Sunglasses and menswear were licensed, and in September 2010, Ford returned to the runway to launch his first womenswear collection.
By the end of the decade, the Tom Ford label was looking at $1 billion in annual revenue. But the outbreak took its toll and forced the company to lay off workers. ELC said it expects the brand to reach the $1 billion net sales mark “in the next two years.”
The epidemic was also hard on Ford personally. Her husband and partner of 35 years, Richard Buckley, passed away in September 2021 at the age of 72 after a long illness. They had a son named Jack together 10 years ago.
“The world knows Tom as a perfectionist, with impeccable style, as a designer,” says Diane von Furstenberg. “He’s a Marlboro fashion man. And he’s an extraordinarily kind man on top of that.”