For such a famous guy, Tom Ford has managed to keep his personal life remarkably private. Over the past decade, the public saw photographs of his well-known face and his even better-known designs for Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent everywhere. But while other fashion designers seemed only too willing to show off their lifestyles and invite the press to virtually move into their homes, Ford kept his stylish doors closed (even to most friends). "My houses are for me and for Richard and Angus," says Ford, referring, respectively, to his longtime companion, magazine editor Richard Buckley, and their beloved fox terrier. Then again, there's nothing like a major life change to make you rethink your rules. Ford, of course, has left the world of fashion for a prospective career in Hollywood. And this month, he finally drops the drawbridge on his domestic life with the publication of Tom Ford (Rizzoli), a lush 416-page photographic retrospective of Ford's now legendary 10 years at Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent. Included in the book are the collections, the advertising campaigns and the houses: his modernist Richard Neutra villa in Los Angeles, his Victorian town house in London and his ranch house in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Why the change of heart?
"Before, when I was at Gucci, I wanted to keep something a bit private," says Ford on a recent early evening. He's dressed in an impeccably tailored charcoal suit, black boots and a crisp white shirt opened three buttons from the top, and he's seated on a silver mohair sofa in his Los Angeles living room. "Now, because this book is called Tom Ford, it seemed appropriate to include my personal life. And the houses are a big part of my life. My aesthetic has always been about more than just fashion. It's been about architecture, it's been about popular culture," he says, while sipping a vodka, enjoying what he claims is his first day off all summer.
For a visitor to the sleek Ford home, designed by Neutra in 1955, the explanation might not be necessary. The connection between Ford's take on fashion and architecture is everywhere apparent in the cool, charcoal-hued living room, which opens onto the brilliant hills of Bel-Air.
"The houses influenced the stores," he says. "This house in particular influenced the Gucci stores. My London house influenced the Saint Laurent stores."
The juxtaposition of the houses and stores in Ford's book allows readers to glimpse his "cross-pollination of ideas," as he puts it. There is also no better example of Ford's genius at branding. "All my houses look the same," he says. "I have a very specific set of tastes. I like certain colors, or, rather, lack of. I don't like clutter. I'm very linear. I occasionally like curves, but it has to be the right curvea very organic curve, and it's usually juxtaposed against something very straight."