There is perhaps no better evidence of the tried and true adage that "sex sells," especially when it comes to the fashion industry, than the designer—and director—Tom Ford. But since helming Gucci and his own namesake empire, and after endlessly waxing poetically about sex, Ford is now finally, at long last, starting to get tired of his old ways: "I’ve done the G-spot. I’ve put the perfume there," he said, referencing his infamous 2003 Gucci campaign, where the Gucci logo could be found shaved into a model's pubic hair.
It's important to note, though, that the shaved model was a woman—which is in part why, more than a decade later, Ford is finally starting to get fed up with the world's "prudishness." "I get the criticism, I see it in my press reports, all complaining about the objectification of women," Ford said in an interview out this week in New York magazine. "I’ve objectified men just as much in my career, but you just cannot run those images. I put that perfume bottle between a woman’s breasts, but I also put it between a guy’s butt cheeks, but [few] would accept that because our culture is more comfortable with the objectification of women to sell products than it is with the objectification of men to sell products."
In short, Ford continued, he's all "for equal-opportunity objectification," though that approach is hardly accepted around the world—and especially lately, which is definitely surprising given that his famed Gucci ads have recently been followed by campaigns so NSFW they feature models having real sex. Admittedly, that charge has now been taken up by indie brands, which could explain why Ford continued: "Oh my God, we’ve gotten so prudish. We’ve gone in reverse. It’s so weird."
On TV, for example, saying "f---" "is part of modern parlance," and "you can see full-frontal male nudity. Like, all the time." Porn's accessibility, Ford continued, has made it largely impossible for an adult to "say she’s freaked out by seeing a penis on television," but at the same time, "it goes both ways. In advertising we’ve become so prudish, and I think that comes from a fear that half our population in America is rejecting something, and that affects our business."
"Even as television and language go forward, you can still not show a woman’s nipple in many magazines. You can show a breast, but not a nipple! To me a breast without a nipple is more perverse and is really creepy, but if I do those things, no magazine will run them, so I can’t push images too far or they’ll be rejected."
The censorship, Ford explained, is "definitely" part of why he now works in Europe (though he has lately shown in New York). It's also why he and his company always take care to shoot three ad campaigns: "the world version, the conservative version, and the Middle East version." The Middle East version has to adhere to rules like men not touching women, and all parties wearing clothes, but "the conservative version is for America," Ford took care to clarify.
To be clear, Ford is not "done with sex," but he has "been more romantic lately"—"more sensual than sexual because that's all quite easy at this point." After all, he's been doing the latter for well over a decade—and admitted to "feel[ing] less sexy" now that he's a father. Though, to stick with his argument for male objectification, we must point out he's been looking particularly sexy directing his movies in his own Tom Ford suits as of late.
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