Tom Ford, Fashion Designer

Entertainers are using their celebrity to become fashion entrepreneurs, some of them, like Puffy, have been successful at it. They will not leave anytime soon, but you have to wonder why writers continue to talk about the idea that Tom Ford will make it in Hollywood.

Tom Ford had no formal training and stumbled upon his fashion genius like some idiot savant, absorbing what he could deduct from what is out there and adding his own personality and energy, the result were ideas that were unlike anything that Gucci has seen before. Once he put Gucci and the parent company on a very different level, artistically and financially, there was little that the skeptics could say about his position at the company. People were not just interested in Gucci again, they were damned near obsessed.

After 14 years Tom has stepped down, made way for another creative director to join Gucci’s ranks, and wants to get into Hollywood. However, is the money any better in Hollywood? Fashion is getting overcrowded, as any one in good standing with venture capitalists can start their own label, it appears. Can Hollywood take Tom Ford farther than he could have even imagined, as a designer?

Think about it, as a designer you spend 10 years working under someone else. Then you spend another 10 years putting good ideas into clothing that purists complain fall apart in the washer. If you are fortunate to make it another 10 years after that, you may or may not have the celebrity and power to build a company that lasts. Many companies close their doors or simply fall apart. Designers like Lauren and Hilfiger that were on top of the world 10 years ago now simply exist. Klein sold out to Phillips-Van Huesen. People are more interested in the new Abercrombie stores than they are singular labels or designers.

If times have changed, and the writing is on the wall, it may be a good thing that Ford left when he did. He left when he was on top, before things started going downhill, and the press would have anything bad to say about him. If nothing else signifies, and describes this first decade of the new millennium, it is reinvention, and the idea that a job is simply a vehicle to take you from point a to point b, rather than a career. Spreading yourself thin, not because you are a renaissance man, or a man of many hats, but because there is more money to be made doing so.

Tom Ford accomplished what he there to do at Gucci and more. Some may hate the way that he did it, or even the fact that he was somewhat of an outsider to begin with. Then again, some of the best ideas and the biggest turnarounds in American businesses have come from outsiders that can provide something that purists cannot. The only thing you can really take away from Tom Ford’s career at Gucci is the idea that you should consistently push ahead, rather than make yourself too comfortable with what you are doing now. That is something that we all can value from, regardless of how successful we are at what we are doing.

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