An Interview with Tom Ford

Mimi ON Feb 11, 2010 AT 5:41 pm

Tom Ford

Tom Ford

Tom Ford is best known for his work as a fashion designer and is credited with reviving the fashion houses of Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent through his influential collections. His debut film, an adaptation of Christopher Isherwood’s A Single Man, earned three Golden Globe nominations, we talked to Tom about love, films and of course fashion

You must be delighted with the response to your debut picture?
Absolutely. I’ve been in the business of fashion for long enough to know whether people’s compliments are sincere or whether they’re fake; and whether people are trying to be polite. It has been nice because I can tell that people have responded to this. Comments like that always make you feel good.

Tom Ford & Colin Firth

Tom Ford & Colin Firth

Do you feel in any way vindicated by the film’s success — were there people in the film or fashion industries who doubted you?
Now it’s over I’ve wondered about that.  I made this film because I was dying to make a film and I thought I had something to say. I hope I have more films in me for the rest of my life. It was a different form of expression from what I get to do as a fashion designer. It was something I needed to do in my life, to have a certain deeper way of expressing what I was thinking, and having a different reaction to culture. Since the film has screened, however, people have said, ‘Do you feel good, because everyone was laughing at you?’ I had no idea that anyone was laughing and that some people thought it was a ludicrous idea, because no one had ever dared say that to me before. Now that it’s over people are like, ‘We didn’t think you could do that!’

Are the fashion press particularly unforgiving?
America’s becoming much more like the UK with the tabloid press – our culture is about ripping people apart, and we’ve all come to think of that as funny and amusing, and it is, unless you’re the one being ripped apart! But it’s also negative and we thrive on that as a culture. The fashion press is very tough, but the film press can be ruthless, so I feel relieved to have escaped unscathed. It’s like when you’ve finished a collection. I understand that with my next film, I could be ripped apart. Basically, you should just do something you believe in.

It’s all the more impressive when one considers that you shot it on a tight budget of just $7 million…
It did take me three years to develop this project, and another five years working on films that I did not make. In the fashion press, it was written after about a year: ‘Oh, well he didn’t make a film! That was a disaster, he wasn’t a success at that and now he’s gone back to fashion.’ There is no understanding in fashion of the time it takes to develop a film. In fashion, everything is like that <he snaps his fingers>.

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