After a final collection, Tom Ford’s next chapter
Having shown a final collection for his eponymous brand, Tom Ford is set to leave fashion and focus on film. Meanwhile, Peter Hawkings, a longtime designer for the brand, will take the helm
Earlier this week, American designer Tom Ford – who rose to fame with a successful stint at Gucci in the 1990s – showed his final collection for the eponymous brand he founded in 2005.
Made up of archival pieces from the close to two decades he has spent honing his signature – a sensual, confident glamour – it was released in a film shot by longtime collaborator Steven Klein, starring a phalanx of Tom Ford muses, from Amber Valletta and Karen Elson to Caroline Trentini and Karlie Kloss.
Pieces spanned his career and featured hallmark motifs: sliced-away mini dresses, constellations of sequins, plunging necklines, animal print and sharp, 1970s-tinged tailoring. The film ends with the models all in black, as if in mourning.
Tom Ford shows final collection
His exit comes in the wake of a $2.8 billion sale of the business to Estée Lauder in November 2022, in part due to Tom Ford’s highly successful cosmetic and fragrance arm. ‘Estée Lauder Companies is the ideal home for the brand. They have been an extraordinary partner from the first day of my creation of the company, and I am thrilled to see them become the luxury stewards in this next chapter,’ he said at the time of the deal, which purportedly made the designer a personal billionaire.
Yesterday, the brand announced a new executive leadership team as the deal was finalised and Estée Lauder became the sole owner. Guillaume Jesel became president and CEO while Peter Hawkings took over Ford’s role as creative director of the brand. A longtime fixture at the house – previously he was senior vice president of Tom Ford menswear – Hawkings has worked alongside Ford for over 25 years. A portrait released of Hawkings depicts him in a pair of black-framed tinted sunglasses and a black suit – an homage to Ford’s perennial uniform.
‘In Peter Hawkings the brand has found the perfect creative director,’ Ford said in a statement. ‘Since the creation of Tom Ford menswear, Peter has been instrumental in the success of the brand. He is an incredibly talented leader with tremendous industry experience, and his appointment gives me confidence that my commitment to creating fashion products with the highest level of design and quality will continue.’
In a separate statement, Ford also revealed his own post-fashion plans, saying that he will be returning to film with production company Fade to Black. Both 2009’s A Single Man and 2016’s Nocturnal Animals, which Ford wrote and directed, were produced by the company. ‘Following the sale of the Tom Ford brand, [he will] concentrate on film projects in development via his production company,’ it read.
Texas-born Ford began working at Gucci in 1990, having previously worked for Chloé in Paris (he took a year off his studies at NYU for the role) and American sportswear designer Cathy Hardwick. He rose quickly in the Italian house, becoming creative director in 1994 and transforming the then-ailing fashion house with sexually charged collections which captured the zeitgeist (perhaps one of his most memorable pieces was a thong with a double-G metal clasp). Matched with an impeccable eye for cut and silhouette, they remain some of contemporary fashion’s most influential – and continually referenced – collections. The first issue of Wallpaper* featured two models wearing his designs for the house.
When he left, in 2004, sales had risen 1,200 per cent to nearly $3 billion dollars. Ford started his eponymous label the year after and opened his first store in 2007. He leaves fashion as one of its most influential – and widely-recognised – names.
Jack Moss is the Fashion Features Editor at Wallpaper*. Having previously held roles at 10, 10 Men and AnOther magazines, he joined the team in 2022. His work has a particular focus on the moments where fashion and style intersect with other creative disciplines – among them art and design – as well as championing a new generation of international talent and profiling the industry’s leading figures and brands.
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