Tom Ford climaxes New York Fashion Week with Flower Power elegance
After a New York Fashion Week obsessed with escapism and optimism, as designers struggled to make sense of their role amid the pandemic, nobody harked back quite as much to a happier era as Tom Ford, who finished off the season Wednesday night with an ode to the exuberance of the Seventies and a novel take on Flower Power elegance.
In a program note, Ford even admitted that during lockdown, “the thought of designing a collection seemed frivolous when so many important and disturbing things were happening in our world. Our stores were all closed and fashion itself just seemed like an extravagance. It was hard to focus, to concentrate, and to be inspired.”
In effect, Ford looked back to that halcyon era, between the birth of the pill in the early 60s and the onslaught of AIDS in 1981, “when life seemed to be more carefree,” referencing iconic models like Donna Jordon and Pat Cleveland, revealing that he had once photographed the latter. “Her energy left me literally high. We finished shooting at about 2:00 am and it actually took me hours to calm down enough to sleep. I felt like I had been doing cocaine all night and this was years after I had become sober. Pat is an inspiration. Her energy is an inspiration. She is joyful and inspiring.”
The result was hyper-floral, uber Photoshopped floral silk blouses, shirts and pants cut way down the gorge; or uber upbeat zebra; cheetah or leopard print tops for gals determined to have a very good time. When Tom did do mono-color it was in hues of Archbishop’s purple; electric blue and dazzling pinks. Riffing on the decadent glamour of Antonio Lopez illustrations and their obsession with sexy downtown American damsels, Ford’s look book captured the models strutting and emoting, all with immense smiles, all with bright make-up.
This spring, with his sample rooms in Italy and Los Angeles closed, Ford hunkered down in LA, dressed, he admitted, in the same dirty jeans and denim shirt.
“I think we could all feel a global depression [both financial and psychological] worsening. I thought about skipping the season altogether… I felt that honestly fashion should simply go into hibernation for a year,” lamented the Texan designer, who finally began having close friends over, two at a time, for strict socially distanced dinners outside his home. Amazed that his male guests made an effort to “actually wash their hair,” and that female made such an effort to get dressed up. In response, Ford whipped up several caftans in streaky volcanic hues for evening. While for lunches around Californian pools, he showed large gorgeous tie-dye wraps that Janis Joplin would have adored.
Ford dressed his guys like the brothers of his female cast, in the same blend of big cat and floral prints, with the addition of a series of Disco Dragon suits and some very natty sleek leather jerkins in oxblood and putty blue.
All told, this was one of Ford’s most assured and attractive collections since he launched his own house back in 2006, even if, given the medical tragedy that surrounds us all, fashion doesn’t seem very important at all these days. And yet in harkening back to better days, when the world seem blessed with endless possibilities, these clothes, nonetheless, seem very right.
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