If you happen to run into Tom Ford, you’d better hope you aren’t in a room with overhead lighting.
The designer admitted to The New York Times that if he’s in a space with overhead lighting, he has no qualms about adjusting or removing any lightbulbs that hang from above. In fact, Ford’s aversion to overhead light is so well-known that a Los Angeles hot spot—at which he naturally has his own reserved table—has accommodated his request to light things perfectly by installing a switch that cuts off the overhead lights in advance of the designer’s arrival. “At Tower Bar, if you go to my table, the corner table at the back, there are these overhead spots and on mine it’s blacked out, because I told them, ‘You have to get rid of that spot or I’m not going to come here. No overhead lights,’” he said.
According to the interview, it seems Ford possesses plenty of the characteristics of a vampire—he wears all black (“I don’t like color on me because I don’t like to scream”), seemingly never ages, thinks about death “more than every hour,” and has no desire to be seen in the middle of the day.
In fact, Ford hates overhead lighting so much that he refuses to attend one of the most elite Hollywood gatherings of the year: Bary Diller and Diane von Furstenberg’s Oscar lunch. “I don’t like the middle of the day,” he said. “Take a picture at noon, anywhere in the world. You’re going to look like hell — hell. Everybody looks like hell. Unless you’re 18, maybe, or under. Even then you don’t look your best. I like daylight, but not to go out in public.”
Ford also told The New York Times that he is “a hyper-hyper Virgo,” and his behavior (especially his abhorrence of unflattering lighting) does align with the traits of the zodiac sign. According to astrologers, Virgos are one of the pickier signs. They’re fussy, hard-working perfectionists who also tend to be on the shy side or are, at the very least, exceptionally observant. The designer’s personal definition seems to be congruous with that of the experts: “Perfectionist, anal-retentive, supposedly. Seemingly uptight, seemingly aloof. We’re definitely homebodies also. We love the home.”
Ford is indeed a confirmed Virgo, with a birthday on August 27, but Virgos are not the only ones who have been known to make diva-like declarations about their contempt toward the harsh illumination caused by lightbulbs hanging overhead. Mariah Carey has gone on record calling overhead lighting “abusive” and only uses recessed lighting, chandeliers, or candles in her New York home. Her crusade against overhead lighting, and unflattering lighting in general (she revealed in her 2016 docuseries, Mariah’s World, that she will never be seen under fluorescent bulbs without sunglasses), sparked enough memes and GIFs to feed the Internet for a few years. Carey, however, is an Aries, with an anniversary (she doesn’t do “birthdays”) on March 27.
But Ford’s reasoning for his hatred of overhead light does make a lot of sense, regardless of whether or not you believe in the zodiac. “Why, oh my God, overhead light, where your brow is going to create shadow right there, your nose is going to create a shadow like this, you look like hell, you look like you have no hair, even if you have a lot of hair,” he said in his Times interview. “Nobody looks good in overhead lighting.”
Ford simply has no patience for the possibility that his visage might become unsightly as a consequence of appearing underneath some unflattering lighting. Now, if only all public spaces could just adopt the Tom Ford method, we’d all look 10 percent better.