Tom Ford Hardcover – Nov 4 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
This enormous compendium may be Ford's swan song as a designer, as he recently announced that he was quitting fashion to direct movies. But for the last 10 years, as the creative director at Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent, he took the brands in fresh directions. This huge, slipcased Festschrift checks in at 11"×14", and covers each of the Gucci years individually, compiling product shots, ads, runway candids, snippets of Ford wisdom ("I think you have to have personality at a brand—otherwise, it's just clothes"), Gucci-sporting celebrities and commercial stills. Vogue's Anna Wintour and Vanity Fair's Graydon Carter contribute a foreword and introduction respectively. The much-covered growth at Gucci and YSL are the real story behind the book, to the point where the press chat credits Ford with "carving out a new industry archetype: the businessman designer." But the 375 color and b&w photos, all culled from existing fashion archives, is more of a look back at how Ford's creations were presented (including year-by-year portraits of the photogenic Ford himself), rather than what led to their creation, how they were actually made or how they fit into the culture at large. As a 10-year time capsule of brand fashioning, the book succeeds perfectly.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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This man was the biggest ground-breaker since Giorgio Armani and the late Gianni Versace when he was at the helm of Gucci and YSL. And he somehow singlehandedly directed, dictated and decided on the Milanese style during the late 90s and early 00s. He became one with the company he was working for, while the world beneath his fingertips was rapidly changing. At the eye of this storm that altered the fashion business irreversibly and prepared it for the next century, he made the conscious decision to mold his identity over Gucci to which he has given so much. Tom Ford restructured a new personality and stance for both Gucci, and YSL to a lesser extend. From the very top to the bottom; finest detail in image, production, style, PR and most importantly, in business. It has always been hard to resist his presence and the influence that he interminably exuded in style.
Mr. Ford is creative alright, most certainly possesses a sense of composure and finesse, ever so perfectly walks the walk, talks the talk, and refines and redefines design according to what he decides to be the most primed and perfected. He seems to have an answer for everything, because he swiftly places himself as the center of his own universe - the ultimate tastemaker and the demi-God of a designer. Perhaps the 'Oscar Wilde' of his era. I truly admire this vivid character, since his story will eternally be the tale of a luminous vision and forceful manifesto in fashion.
And then there is this the book.
For a hardcover block of a weight heavier than my fridge, it is undeniably and adamantly vapid. There are more empty pages here than the ones with some insightful and sensible text on. The book favors the more celebrity-oriented imagery focusing on a glitzy nothingness over the actual designs and the vision that sustained them. It rejoices in its lack of depth and dimension. The designer's self-indulgent proclamations, which the book features regarding his accomplishments and contentions in fashion and his place in it, are generally insipid and somehow come off as seriously reduced. I would expect some form of wordplay from Mr. Ford and his editors which should have been elegant, concise, and substantial all at the same time.
It is just empty. Why putting images of the likes of Lil Kim or Eve seemed to be more pressing and suitable than a few more shots from his runways, sketches, houses, office space, mag covers, I will never know.
It is very hard to find the images or prints of his designs, the campaigns including the compelling perfume ads that he executed and the accessories -from watches to the infamous bamboo heel stilettos- which he oversaw. He did not insert any of these iconic images that made him who he is internationally, and instead, we see a captivating dress on a gorgeous model, and on the facing page we had to see the exact same dress on the pop culture personality Lil Kim on a very poorly-lit and arbitrary tabloid shot.
I don't know how much of his creative decisions went into the actual editing of the book, but this is somewhat insensibly executed. This should not sustain itself as a mindless photography book, enjoying a comfortably numbing visual mediocrity. It is a book titled 'TOM FORD' in obnoxiously colossal capital letters, but you do not get the sense of his presence at all. I did not expect a biography obviously, and I am happy that it is a visual book, because I always thought that the guy is more of a two-dimensional personality than a single-dimensional one - only defined by self-congratulatory adjectives. However, for a man that has a lot to say and show, there is a lot that is lacking between the covers of this portfolio, standing tall with over 400 glossy pages.
Needless to say, I think any price is reasonable for this man and his book that at the very least looks gorgeously architectural, but still... This is the closest he came near imperfection (literally: my first copy was printed incorrectly - had two introductions and no interview - changed it later.) Moreover, I do not believe this book stands as a celebration for him, but it is almost like the talented designer decidedly attempted to hint what and how much Gucci will lose when he is gone, including his celebrity fans and the overall smoke-and-mirrors pizazz which he interminably pumps and pumps and pumps...
In addition, Ford includes a lucrative amount of fascinating analyses and summaries of each year along with his inspirations and personal feelings for each year. Furthermore, the book includes a forward by Anna Wintour, an introduction by Graydon Carter, and an absorbing interview with the man himself by Bridget Foley.
too many candid celeb shots - wasted pages that couldve been filled by more fashion spreads or images.
and i got really annoyed by too many images of his stark, boring homes. can anybody honestly live in places like that? so devoid of any kind of color or creativity that he brings to his clothes.
i am in love with tom ford as the next fashionista, for he is a great talent, but for someone who is going to put out a book about himself and his work - where are the pics of the countless people behind the scenes who helped propel him to his superstar status. maybe pics of him hangin out with the seamstresses, i dont know -- something that would show that Tom is indeed human...instead i thought the book, although did present some fantastic images of campaigns and such, was lacking -- straight runway shots are so boring - papparazzi shots of celebs are boring also - im sure there were arty photographers out there at his shows taking pics all those seasons.. i am glad all the image campaign ads were included.
That was then and now is now. Tom Ford is still resting on his laurels of the success of his career change in moving form fashion to film direction. His first film was the unanimously acclaimed, Oscar winning A SINGLE MAN with Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, and Nicholas Hoult enacting Christopher Isherwood's brilliant book of the same name. Since this book TOM FORD is apparently the designer director's swan song to fashion it is destined to become a collector's item. Grady Harp, April 12
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