Tom Ford came onboard the James Bond franchise in 2008 with Quantum of Solace. In truth had he not been the clothier of Bond, I wouldn’t pay much mind to his collections or career.

However, I recently caught the Tom Ford documentary on Amazon Prime and took some notes and screen grabs that I wanted to share with you all.

Notes and takeaways from The Tom Ford Documentary

Tom Ford was born in a well off family grew up in New Mexico. He moved to California to be an actor/model, (unknown what year) and he was in commercials mostly. At one time he was in 12 commercials at the same time although he will never say which.

He ventured to New York as a 17 year old, frequented the infamous Studio 54 New York night club and met Andy Warhol. It was during these times Tom discovered he was gay. He cut his teeth as a designer when he went to Paris and did an internship at Chloe.

How he got the gig

Some years later (years are unclear on the documentary) back in New York Ford comes to work for fashion designer Cathy Hardwick.

To get the job Ford rings her up every single day. Reluctantly Hardwick eventually picks up the phone, and such is the force and charisma of Ford she is intrigued and agrees to meet him. (He was phoning from the lobby downstairs).

Hardwick asked her to name his two favourite designers. Ford said Armani and Chanel. Ford got the job and Hardwick later asked why he named those two and he said, ‘because you were wearing them.’

Time to get out

Later, Ford works as a jeans designer for Perry Ellis. It’s then he meets his future partner Richard Buckler a menswear fashion journalist.

We are now in the late 80s, New York, and aids had rampaged through the gay community. Ford and Richard wanted to go somewhere where it wasn’t sad. They moved to Milan and Ford got to work for Gucci. Gucci wasn’t really going anywhere at the time.

The Gucci Image

Gucci was a truculent brand with lots of in-house fighting (and murdering, but I’ll research that for another article). They were a scandalous tabloid family.

In ’94 Ford took over as Creative Director. He focused on the image over and above the clothes. His first collection was the Tom Ford ’96 collection which was very routed in 70s Californian, or at least the verisimilitude of 70s California.

His 96 Autumn/Winter collection was Halston-inspired; holes cut out of long gowns, emphasising skin and body. It was sexy and confident. He made adverts that were photographed by Mario Testino.

The buy out of Yves Saint Laurent

This was a period that was coming off the back of grunge and it was very glamourous. It forged a confluence of sleekness and sexy-ness that had been lost in popular culture.

Tom Ford doubled Gucci’s money in 3 years, and as they looked to expand, Gucci bought out Yves Saint Laurent. Laurent was unhappy with what Tom Ford did for the house. And this couldn’t have been a good time for Ford who idolised Yves Saint Laurent.

His debut

Ford carried on designing both the mens and womenswear collection for Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent for 2000-2004. But there was an acrimonious split and Tom leaves depressed.

He teams up with Zegna, produces a collection that doesn’t see the catwalk, but does get viewed at private appointments. It was incredibly expensive, his socks go for 100 pounds.

His debut collection is very ostentatious, he thought it was English but it really wasn’t.

tom ford documentary collection

Getting into films

He didn’t want his name on a brand for fear of driving by a shop in his old age, with the Tom Ford name on it,, full of clothes he would have never designed.

He didn’t want to be owned, he wanted to be independent. In order to fund his first couple of  boutiques he sold a self portrait of Andy Warhol which apparently went for 30 million.

In 2005 started own production company Fade to Black. Whilst the world waited for him to return to Womenswear he made a film called A Single Man. The film was written and co-written by him from a novel, directed by him, and financed by him.

tom ford documentary waving


In 2010 Ford finally returned to womenswear. It was madly expensive, not sure if it sold but it was great. His collection was more accessible than most designers of his time. He made trouser suits that were very wearable.

The womenswear have a fashion impact, whereas his menswear is more suiting and making something incredibly well. Ford wants to mentioned in the same breathe as Chanel and Dior.

I hope you enjoyed my notes. The Tom Ford documentary is available on Amazon Prime

tom ford documentary

Further Reading

The Tom Ford Experience | Buying the Suit from No Time to Die