Celebrated fashion designer Tom Ford is best known for turning Gucci into a brand worth billions of dollars, before leaving the business to launch his own highly successful brand.
Born to realtors in Austin, Texas, Ford spent his childhood in Texas and New Mexico, before decamping for New York to attend New York University, majoring in art history. Quitting after one year, Ford acted in television commercials before moving onto Parsons, where he studied architecture.
It was fashion, however, that really piqued his interest, having taken a year off to work at the Chloé press office in Paris. After graduating, he was hired by Cathy Hardwick, the American sportswear designer. Thereafter, Ford moved to Perry Ellis, then Europe, feeling like he couldn’t improve his design skills without leaving the country.
Ford became creative director at Gucci in 1994. Back then, the brand was nearly bankrupt and deeply unfashionable. He brought a sexiness and glamour to the brand, bringing on photographer Mario Testino and stylist Carine Roitfeld to shoot campaigns. He and Gucci’s then president, Domenico de Sole, took the company public and — in a bid to avoid a takeover by LVMH — joined forces with PPR (now Kering). By 2004, Gucci was valued at over $10 billion.
However, after creative differences with the PPR management, Ford and De Sole departed the company. Ford settled in Los Angeles, and directed and produced the film "A Single Man," which garnered an Oscar Academy nomination and Golden Globe nomination.
In 2006, Ford returned to fashion with his own label, initially with cosmetics and menswear before returning to the high-octane glamour of womenswear that had become his signature and trademark. De Sole also returned as chief executive of his label. Tom Ford Beauty is set to turn over $1 billion in sales by 2020.
In 2016 Ford wrote and directed the film "Nocturnal Animals" to significant critical acclaim. The film won a Grand Jury Prize at the 73rd Venice International Film Festival, with a cast including Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal receiving Golden Globe and Oscars nominations.
Ford and his longtime partner, Richard Buckley, have a son, born September 2012.
In March 2019, Ford was voted chairman of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), succeeding Diane von Furstenberg, who held the position for 13 years.