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2012 May 9

Tom Ford Tidbits! Highlights From Fern Mallis' "Fashion Icons" At 92Y

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Tom Ford and Fern Mallis Tom Ford and Fern Mallis
Joyce Culver for 92Y
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(NEW YORK) For the love of Ford! Last night's "Fashion Icons" Q&A series at the 92nd Street Y, hosted by Fern Mallis, placed Tom Ford in the hot seat for over an hour and a half of pure TF bliss. Tickets to the live chat sold out four months ago; people came in droves to watch it simulcast in an adjacent hall, a feat that Woody Allen pulled earlier this year. There was plenty to ponder from Mallis and Ford's convo, all convivial rapport with a saucy moment or two thrown in for good measure. Read on for some of Ford's finest gems! 
BY ALEXANDRA ILYASHOV 

FORD'S FORMATIVE YEARS: 
On his cowboy streak, courtesy of his Texas upbringing: "I put on a cowboy hat, and you can see the genetics. I don't look stupid or silly wearing it, and a lot of people do. It looks like the hat just grew there." 

On moving to New Mexico circa childhood: "Coming from Texas, Santa Fe was exotic;
Charles Manson lived there at the time! There were dirt roads and hippie communes still."
 
On his grandmother: "She thought of herself as Liz Taylor...she was very present, flamboyant, an almost cartoonish character. When she came to our house, she jingled, she smelled good, she brought presents, she was extravagant; it was very exciting. We called her Duckie. She didn't like 'grandma.'" 

On being a precocious child: "I was the kid who never wanted to be a kid...maybe I was a strange kid. When you're six, carrying around a man's briefcase is like carrying luggage to school!"

On being bullied: "Kids would put rocks in a sock, swing it around and hit me with it."

CIRCA COLLEGE: 
On why he dropped out of NYU after one year: "I went to Studio 54 a lot..." 

On his stint as a commercial model: "At one point, I was in 12 national commercials at once. I acted under a different name; I won't tell you what it is!" 

On interning at Chloe's PR office in Paris in 1984 while studying at Parsons: "Oh, God. I packed shoes, I sent packages to Vogue, all of that." 

On realizing he wanted to switch from architecture to fashion:
"I was on a trip to Moscow; I felt sick and stayed in while everyone was out, and stayed up in bed thinking about it, which is always what happens to me; I think about something forever and then the answer just comes to me...Architecture was too serious for me."

LOVE (AND POSSIBLY FATHERHOOD):
On meeting longtime beau Richard Buckley: "He's the love of my life...[when we first met] it really scared me because when I looked in his eyes, I saw and knew my entire future." 

On Buckley keeping him in check: "He keeps me so grounded, it's mean! So grounded, it's like I'm down in a hole!" 

On donning the title of dad:
"I've always wanted children, but I'd better get started soon so I can still pick them up." 
 

On interviewees in awe: "When a young kid comes into my office to interview shaking, I'm like, 'why?!' But in our world, that means it's working." 
...And on what interviewees ought not do: "I have people come in, looking for a job, and they say their favorite designer is Nicolas Ghesquiere. Well, he's mine, too, but you don't come in and say that to me!" 
On whether he's obsessed with astrology: "Oh, my God. Yes! I'm a Virgo, and I'm anal retentive. I don't like that term, but it's accurate...If you're going to obsess over a millimeter detail on a shoe, it helps to be a Virgo. The world would be a scary place it it was only run by Virgos." 

WANT TO WORK FOR MR. FORD? TAKE NOTES:
On interviewees in awe: "When a young kid comes into my office to interview shaking, I'm like, 'why?!' But in our world, that means it's working." 

...And on what interviewees ought not do: "I have people come in, looking for a job, and they say their favorite designer is Nicolas Ghesquière. Well, he's mine, too, but you don't come in and say that to me!" 

On whether he's obsessed with astrology: "Oh, my God. Yes! I'm a Virgo, and I'm anal retentive. I don't like that term, but it's accurate...If you're going to obsess over a millimeter detail on a shoe, it helps to be a Virgo. The world would be a scary place if it was only run by Virgos." 

On his decision-making MO: "I hear everyone's opinions, I digest everything, then I make a decision. And I'm very decisive, so after I've made a decision I want to move on. I don't want to hear about it again." 

On the travails and thrills of being a fashion designer: "If there's anything else in the world you'd be happy doing, do that."

GUCCI REMINISCING:
On former Gucci boss, Dawn Mello's, best advice:
"Dawn always said, 'only hire people you want to have dinner with.'" 

On adding YSL creative director title to his full plate as Gucci designer and Gucci Group creative director: "People think that when you're really successful, you're the answer to all of their prayers." 

On his midlife crisis: "I willed my departure from Gucci; I willed it all to fall apart for me. I had everything I wanted in life at that point, and I was not happy. I was no longer drinking to relax or be social. I was drinking to escape."

MORE CAREER BON MOTS:
On the timing of his eponymous brand's launch as financial mayhem brewed: "It was fortunate to start in a recession, as weird as that sounds. We had a quality product...and a name that people already knew. We suffered a lot less than many other brands." 

On pacing in the fashion industry versus Hollywood: "The film industry is slow! You're only making a movie every three to five years, if you're a successful director, at that." 

On being unapologetically un-avant garde: "I'm a commercial fashion designer. I've always designed jackets with two sleeves. I appreciate jackets with three sleeves, or jackets with layers that peel off like Russian dolls, but that's not me. Fashion is not art for me." 

On keeping his RTW so hush-hush: "I get bored by something six or seven months after I see it, which is how long it takes to get to the store. By that time you've seen a dress on 'who rocked it best?' [ed. note: Us Weekly reference] or E!'s Fashion Police."

RANDOM ALERT! FACE TIME:
On gender differences when it comes to plastic surgery: "A man can't have a facelift well. Sideburns end up in the ears. I'm always looking out for that!" 

On (his only?) unrealized career aspiration: "In another life, I would like to be a cosmetic surgeon. It's architectural, you see where the seams go..." 




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