Tom Ford Through The Eyes of Rita Wilson.
He is your brother ("Let's go eat that last piece of chocolate birthday cake"), your best guy friend ("How are you? Is everything okay?"), your best gay friend ("I think you need to trim two inches off your hair"), your confidant ("Is this under the cone of silence?"), your peer ("Will you come see the first cut of my movie?"), your king ("You look stunning tonight"), and also your jester ("That girl is as dumb as hair").
He can ride a kayak down white-water rapids while looking impeccably outdoor chic against the sage of wilderness, a study in gray scale. On one such river trip, when someone marveled about the perfect fit of his off-the-shelf T-shirt, he replied, "Oh, this? This is just a T-shirt from La Rinascente"—the Macy's of Italy—"but I had it altered to fit."
He plays tennis in whites (also altered) and, not surprisingly, likes to win. On horseback, surveying the land at his Santa Fe ranch, he looks like he belongs in a Western directed by that other Ford, John, if John Ford had allowed only black horses, black hats, and black custom saddles, and had an appreciation of contemporary architecture on a stark New Mexico plain.
I met Tom back in the mid-'90s. I remember being as passionate about him as I was about the Gucci black leather motorcycle jacket he'd designed that every woman/starlet/rock star in the world was craving. He started as an actor, but he has never needed the glow of a silver screen to draw both sexes to him like butterflies (moth doesn't quite seem right) to a flame. A Single Man, his first foray into film as a writer-director,allowed him to emerge from the comfortable cocoon of cut and pattern to create lasting images of exceptional beauty, whether that beauty was emanating from a framed landscape or from the face of Colin Firth, who would earn his first Academy Award nomination under Tom's direction.
Even though Tom's appeal is available to us through photographs, his true allure comes from a less public place. His vulnerability lives where artists who constantly search for more beauty, more truth, reside. He is honest—sometimes to his detriment—and is sensitive to those who have been unintentionally hurt by his comments. His thoughtfulness is well-known. I love when I hear the Skype phone ringing on my computer and see that it's him checking in.
A 26-year relationship with his partner, Richard Buckley, tells us he understands commitment. He is there to stay. Having waited until the age of 50 to become a father, Tom displays a tenderness with the couple's baby boy that shows that his longtime wish has come true. When the light flecks off Tom's graying beard as he nuzzles his young son, he is even more attractive—those slight white slivers of reality radiating through the scruff.
An unapologetic perfectionist ("I did this for runway, but I didn't put it in the collection because I don't like the way the tulle falls on the arm") who cares passionately about what he puts out there, Tom creates a bit of anxiety when one is getting dressed to have dinner with him. Not because he would be critical but because one wants to please our king of fashion. He likes it when a woman thinks about her presentation. That's sexy.
Packing to go on a trip with Mr. F. takes more thought than seems reasonable. Yet stopping by his Los Angeles house unannounced in sweats and no makeup may elicit a sincere response of "You look rested." He makes you laugh. When the Texan in him gets going ("Girl, I ain't gonna lie!"), there's no taking the Texan out of the man. If there were ever to be a one-man show about Tom Ford on Broadway, it would have to include some stand-up comedy. When he used to drink, he may have believed he was amusing, but nothing is more entertaining than when his truth serum of sober observation splashes onto you like a bottle of his Black Orchid.
His process is both open and inclusive ("Of all these perfumes, which one do you like best?") and at the same time mysterious and private. Like lovers of darkness (his production company is called Fade to Black), Tom prefers to stay out of the daylight. Many a friend has tried to cajole him into a lovely picnic in the park only to be rebuffed with a deep stare into their eyes and a whispered "I'll see you tonight."
May there be many more nights in Tom's company. And in the daytime, my Tom Ford sunglasses will have to do.
“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.”