This past London Fashion Week, Tom Ford used the same presentation structure for his third collection that helped land that mythos status for his brand new eponymous line with his last two endeavors. It’s a clever, if not explicitly haughty conceit: Only the most select press allowed in the room, no photographers, no cameras, no phones, no Tweeting, no post-show reviews – no nada. It’s almost the same ruse Facebook utilized to such great effect in its early beginnings. The exclusivity makes you want in, the holding out leaves the fans and pundits with something to look forward to – something they’re not sick of looking at just yet; it makes a quasi-cause celebre article like this one possible.
In Vogue, who had exclusive access to the Tom Ford-shot images of all 36 looks, he tells Sarah Mower “My focus is really old-fashioned…I want to do classic clothes.” Maybe it was that misguided association in his approach to this season’s line-up, ultimately that classic wares and having an old-fashioned sensibility have anything to do with one another, that kept Ford from receiving his third consecutive standing ovation.
The collection was not without its interspersed winners – the raffia work was astonishing, particularly in those long sheered skirts banded in leather – the collection’s best offerings for sure, but the overall feeling felt borrowed, displaced. For starters, the predominant silhouette in the array – the relaxed peasant blouses on strict, fitted skirts – looked severely discordant with the ebb and flow of today’s consumer taste. Ford admittedly refuses to follow the modes of his contemporaries in his own design, but by rummaging so deeply into his own archival works at YSL and Gucci, he ends up doing himself a huge disservice.
With the monumental impact he had on the industry during his tenure at Gucci in the 90s, does he really think that what people are looking for in his return is a sartorial remix? With each passing season, what most want to discover is a newfound vocabulary. What’s next should be his totem – not what’s already come to pass. Classics are being made today. Alexander Wang’s fall 2011 lurex pants feel like a classic already, but guess what – Tom Ford hit upon it first, way back in Gucci spring 1997. And yet, it still feels relevant for today’s consumer. Old-fashioned is not what fashion is about. Classic, on the other hand, is.
This coming February, when Tom Ford once again invites his select group of press to see his fall 2012 collection, what he will do instead is host “ten small, personal presentations”, where he will stand next to the models, explaining the workings-on of each garment to those present, so that the close viewer becomes more acute, more aware of what they’re really seeing. Here’s hoping that next season what they’ll be seeing is something new, modern, and if he really means it – classic. You know, something to really stand up and cheer about.
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