Tom Ford | The hand speaks

Tom Ford sees, feels and creates what’s right for him.


I went back to Tom Ford, on Madison Avenue. This time, to meet with Shirin Von Wulffen; I’d worked with her at Yves Saint Laurent. Now she’s the publicist for Tom Ford International. I should offer that being with her, a woman of inordinately cultured care, in her explanations of Tom Ford’s vision, was a remarkable exposure. I’m grateful for her time, the generosity of her gentle spirit.

I can’t say, precisely, what I find fascinating about Tom Ford. But there’s something there that speaks to me. I can’t afford his clothes – I can only look, listen, experience what he has to offer. Why the connection, then? I suppose that it comes from having met him. But in spending time with Shirin, I learned more.

The story is about the hand, the mind, the eye. The story speaks to the luxury of things made by hand. But the hand is led by the mind, guided by the eye. What is luxury but that, the object made beautiful by the mindful hand and care, that implies a more refined attention to manufacture that warrants a greater cost, the more rarefied the character.

To Shirin’s revealing, the character of Tom Ford’s vision, is not about the tradition of bespoke tailoring, the spirit of Savile Row, but rather an emergence of Tom’s pursuit of something more — a better handmade cut that reaches more to the Italian tradition, fit with Tom’s leaner vision.

But that sense of the handmade object extends to the interiors, the detailing of which is far too complex for me to express here. Bill Sofield‘s expertise, in his long relationship with Tom, is to create an expression that is almost residential — the combination of finely crafted materials, precisely and carefully turned, that savors lean lines of cabinetry and construction, infused with textured integrations. Polished makassar wood is offset with buffed leathers, stainless steel and glassed closets. Bill Sofield has articulated the space as a series of minature experiences — a procession: opening progression, ready to wear, fitting rooms, shoes and boots, a shirting room, walking sticks, boots, the fragrance room. Each opportunity to touch and be touched, is something that is part of the connection to Tom’s dream — a kind of holistically resolved universe of the world that he lives in.

To Shirin’s clarity of insight, the key to it all lies in the service — how is the guest treated, what explanation is offered about the articles, how attentive is the character of the team — in reaching to the visitor. And there’s a key here in the story. The telling of Tom’s visioning is not merely about the space, and the products therein, but rather — the people that are there. Who are they, what do they know, how do they reach out and connect — and how promising is that experience??

It’s about care. And Tom’s global experience in trying to find care for himself, the right object, the right fit, the correct materials, has lead to Tom Ford on Madison — a sensualist dream. And soon to be elsewhere.

In the end, this image:


collates the character of the one brand sensibility to the other. The sleek imagery of the one attribute of the brandstory, the precisely refined and polished interiors — slick, classical minimalism and discipline; and the spirit of the hand, in the textured and weathered spirit of the bonsai. Every product that lies there, is about that — the hand, the material, the manufacture. Perfection in touch and experience — orchestrated.

Therein, the brand epitomized.