Every five to ten years, a designer comes along who completely changes the aesthetic and direction of men’s fashion. Be it Hedi Slimane at Dior single-handedly reviving 60’s rocker-chic and a wave of slim via the trickle-down effect or the creation of the modern suit by Giorgio Armani, they are integral in the forward movement of fashion.
The current most revolutionary designer in menswear is without question, Tom Ford. During his tenure at Gucci, it is well known and acknowledged that he transformed the brand into what it presently represents today. With his new eponymous label, he is influencing formalwear in a way that has not been seen since Calvin Klein revolutionized the modern suit with clean lines and chic simplicity.
Rather, Ford’s impact and talent has been in bringing back a masculine sophistication to the suit and in a larger sense, reinventing the man along the way. Whereas androgyny has been, and continues to be popular with many men’s designers (Prada sent out male models wearing tutu skirts and ‘manties’ during their most recent collection), Ford strongly reaffirms traditional male gender identity.
Ford seems to bring back a glamorous masculine ideal of the roaring 20’s where monopolistic tycoons enjoyed the vast pleasures of the newly industrial world. The clothes are manifestly meant to convey a boldness and power, be it from loud pinstripes to double-breasted, peak lapel suits; the image of an oligarch is omnipresent. And it likely takes an oligarch to afford a Tom Ford suit, where off-the-rack begins at $3,500 and custom-made at $5,000.
According to the man himself, “The Tom Ford menswear collection is a new world of menswear built on a vision of deeply personalized luxury. The collection offers the finest quality products, made in Italy by artisan craftsmen.”
Sex is clearly central both to Ford’s collections as well as the spirit of his brand. From the provocative, explicit ads for his new fragrance to the subtle undercurrent in all his clothes, sex is obviously the main inspiration.
What Tom Ford does best are timeless, classic looks with a bit of modern reinvention and rejuvenation. He is largely responsible for the return of the three-piece and double breasted suit. The line is altogether the antithesis of the casual, street wear movement; everything exudes elegance and refinement. Despite the designer’s own penchant of wearing unbuttoned shirts to reveal a tanned chest, the collection is less blatant in its approach.
The Tom Ford store on Madison Avenue in New York is a Mecca for men’s classic fashion and jet set sophistication, and is also currently the only place where the full line is available. It is definitely not a place to go unless you intent to seriously buy something because the staff is higher pressure than your boss before a deadline.