Tom Ford has gone tame. Well, that’s not quite how he’d put it. The master of fabulous excess and full tilt glamour is opting for simplicity. Post-show, he called it a “search for security” and said it was a response to the culture of negativity in the world around us, especially in America. “I’ve never really been a designer who’s talked about a moment in time, how that’s influenced what I design, but you can’t escape the news,” Ford said. “I feel frustrated and agitated and exhausted. And I don’t want to wear anything particularly challenging or anything particularly aggressive.”
Translated on the runway, this wasn’t quite the fashion equivalent of unplugging and going off the grid, but it was certainly a more understated outing than his collection of a year ago, the centerpiece of which was a crystal-studded Tom Ford of Beverly Hills black sweatshirt. Ford’s desire for calm and security led him to tailoring. It’s his wheelhouse; you can recognize a Tom Ford men’s suit from across the room. The women’s suits on tonight’s runway were noteworthy for their luscious color, with nods to Yves Saint Laurent in Mariacarla Boscono’s red, pink, and purple combo, and to Ford’s own iconic velvet tux for Gucci in Gigi Hadid’s red-on-red. Shoulders were strong, collars were turned up, and waists were snug. Models tucked hands into trouser pockets to accentuate the narrowness above. As for those trousers, they were without exception oversized, yet crisp in satin, with gentle rolled cuffs above the ankle. Underneath, Ford layered snug knits or hooded sweatshirts instead of button-downs. It doesn’t get more real world than hoodies.
He didn’t give up the glamour cold turkey, though. The ankle-strap peep-toe platform pumps strewn with rhinestones were a saucy riposte to the restraint elsewhere. And there were faux fur fedoras and many real fur jackets and coats that will be produced in faux materials for the stores. The silk jersey evening columns with heavy chain embellishments echoed the slinky white numbers from the same mid-’90s collection that produced that fabulous red tux.
Designers’ constant dilemma is the push and pull of the new and the dependable. In this time of chaos it makes sense that Ford would reexamine what he’s good at. (There’s plenty of evidence that the formula is working elsewhere—see Prada, see Versace.) He hasn’t gone tame, per se, as much as he’s reworking the sleek ’90s codes he famously established. It’s hard to synthesize the zeitgeist twice, but certainly, that red velvet is going to be irresistible all over again.