At the very basest level, every Brit knows of Tom Ford thanks to his contributions to the James Bond movies, having kitted out Daniel Craig for all but one of his 007 flicks.
But the man and the brand are so much bigger than just Bond – and worth billions, as it’s now been confirmed. Luxury cosmetics firm Estée Lauder, the second-biggest cosmetics company in the world, has signed a deal to acquire the designer fashion house of Tom Ford for a whopping $2.8 billion.
Tom Ford said in a joint statement with Estée Lauder: “I could not be happier with this acquisition,” which, to be fair, you would say if you’d just become a billionaire.
So what don’t we know about the 61-year-old designer, filmmaker, screenwriter, and producer? A lot, it turns out. Here are some facts to help bring you up to speed.
He’s credited with saving Gucci from bankruptcy
Anyone who’s watched House of Gucci will know that Ford moved to Gucci in 1990, at a time when creative director Dawn Mello said herself: “No one would dream of wearing Gucci.” For her part, Mello revived the Bamboo bag and Gucci loafer, which is in vogue even today. But it was Ford who is now more often credited with resurrecting the brand, thanks to his work in the women’s ready-to-wear department.
He wasn’t liked by Maurizio Gucci, but Mello struggled to find anyone else who would take the job. “Maurizio always wanted everything to be round and brown, and Tom wanted to make it square and black,” Mello once said. Despite their disagreement on vision, Ford’s behind-the-scenes work meant that, by the time he left in 2004, the Gucci Group was worth $10 billion, and four people had to be hired to replace him.
He takes five baths a day
Quick, somebody tell Tom Ford about the energy crisis! This man may be singlehandedly responsible for it, actually, as it transpires that he bathes as often as five times a day – according to his 24 hours with Harper’s Bazaar. One at 4.30am, when he wakes up, which might in itself be as mental as taking five baths a day, one at 9.15am, to refresh after his workout, one at 6pm (no clear reasoning for this one, so we can assume it’s just… for fun), and one at 10.30pm, once his social obligations are complete and he’s ready for bed.
“Often, I lie in the tub for a half-hour and just let my mind wander,” he told Harper’s Bazaar. “I find a bath meditative.”
Sex sells – and gets Tom into trouble
Ford has a history of using nudity and inuendo as part of his marketing campaigns, and they’ve gotten him into hot water on more than one occasion. His Spring 2003 campaign for Gucci featured a provocative image of a male and female model, the man crouched next to the woman, who is pulling down her underwear to reveal the Gucci “G” shaved into her pubic hair. It was called “extremely harmful” by media watchdogs, and was even banned in the UK – so, if you don’t remember it, that could be why, because God knows it’s pretty memorable.
Ford’s influence at Gucci became so synonymous with sex that they even released a limited-edition collection of provocative products, like a Gucci G-string and silver handcuffs, engraved with the Gucci logo. G-strings hardly seem that provocative now, in the light of the whale tail’s second coming – but this was in 1998, times were different, Sex and the City had only just started, the world wasn’t primed for it yet.
He’s responsible for two critically acclaimed films
Ford’s film credits stretch far further than just Daniel Craig’s spy thrillers – he’s a filmmaker in his own right. Ford is responsible for the writing and direction of the 2009 film A Single Man, starring Colin Firth, as a struggling LA professor who grapples with the death of his boyfriend. The film was well received and earned multiple awards and nominations, including a Bafta for Firth.
Then, seven years later, Ford released his follow-up effort, Nocturnal Animals, starring Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal. The film was also relatively highly praised, and earned the Grand Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival.
Ford is no longer a fan of the Met Gala
Despite having crafted some of the chicest red-carpet looks in recent history (see: Zendaya’s pink breastplates, Timothée Chalamet’s silver suit at Cannes), Tom Ford has levelled criticism at the world’s biggest red carpet of all: the Met Gala.
“It’s turned into a costume party,” Ford told former New York Magazine editor Amy Odell in an excerpt of her book, Anna: The Biography, which was released this May, the day after Met Gala. “That used to just be very chic people wearing very beautiful clothes going to an exhibition about the 18th century. You didn’t have to look like the 18th century, you didn’t have to dress like a hamburger, you didn’t have to arrive in a van where you were standing up because you couldn’t sit down because you wore a chandelier.”
Both the chandelier and hamburger comments are presumably in reference to Katy Perry’s Halloween-ish Met Gala looks of 2019. Despite Ford’s comments being said in, presumably, 2022, and his references being to a 2019 look, he still co-chaired the 2021 iteration of the gala. Confusing.
He refuses to gain weight
Remember the bath thing? How could you forget. Well, there is something in Tom Ford’s routine that comes even before his 4.30am bath – weighing himself, to make sure he hasn’t put on a single pound. “If I gain more than three pounds, I eat vegetables for two or three days until I get back down to my weight,” he once told artist Lisa Eisner for Bergdorf Goodman’s blog. “I’m the same weight now that I was when I was 33 years old.”
But he has explained his crazy morning routines
Ford broke down the reasoning behind his mildly unhinged morning routines in an interview with The Talk, where he revealed it’s more than just an obsessive organisational method: “It takes me a long time in the morning to become the person that other people expect me to be,” Ford said. “When I feel depressed and I have a bad day or something terrible has happened or I have to face something, I go through a very precise ritual getting dressed in the morning. In a sense it is armour; I’m building up a layer.”
Oh, and he’s vegan… sort of
In 2018, Ford shared his decision to go vegan with WWD. “I’ve been vegan for about a year,” he said. “When you look at how most of our meat, our animal products, are raised, from a health standpoint, I didn’t feel that I should eat those things any more.” That being said, Ford’s line of beauty products are not vegan, nor are they cruelty-free. And the man himself has admitted to cheating on his veganism. “I cheat with baked goods,” he said. “Most vegan baked goods just don’t do it like a box of Hostess donuts.”
Finally, he’s given up on being ageless
For a 61-year-old man, you may be intrigued by how he looks so, well, 40. Ford has engaged in injectables at points, but he revealed in 2014 that he’d gone cold turkey. This was following the birth of his son, Alexander, with husband Richard Buckley, who sadly passed away in 2021.
Speaking back in 2014, Ford revealed he didn’t have time to be so beauty focused once he became a dad: “Yes, I’ve decided to age. Since we’ve had Jack, I haven’t had a Botox injection or a filler. I haven’t had time.” When asked if he’d go back to age 30 if he could, he said: “No, no, no, no, no, no, no. I’m very happy with where I am. I have a lot to be very happy about.”