Last night we were lucky to be able to catch "Fashion Icons with Fern Mallis" at the 92nd Street Y here in NYC. The subject? None other than the fascinating Tom Ford. An hour and a half passed in the blink of an eye as Ford and Mallis parried back and forth, hitting pretty much his entire life story in the process.
It was the first time I've heard Ford speak in real life (except for a brief "Hello" and handshake at a beauty event, during which I almost fainted), and he comes off as much more self-deprecating than you would assume. Without the non-verbal mannerisms and tone of voice that obviously can't accompany a written piece on him, it's easy to see how he got a reputation for being pompous. But don't get me wrong--he definitely has a healthy ego, but he also has a healthy sense of humor. And despite Mallis' assertion that Ford is shy, he had the entire room eating out of the palm of his well-manicured hand. With a tiny bit of an affected accent, Ford revealed a lot about his past, his current business and state of well-being, and his future plans--and much of it was surprising.
Click through for his best quotes from the talk last night, where he opines on H&M collabs, Marc Jacobs' Met Gala outfit, his somewhat discouraging advice for new designers and so much more.
• On whether or not he believes in astrology (he's a Virgo):
"Oh my god, yes! But the world would be a scary place if it was run by Virgos."
• On his Texas roots and cowboy hats:
"I put on a cowboy hat and I don't look stupid. I look surprisingly good in jeans and a plaid shirt."
(Please, someone take a picture of him in this. Please.)
• On being older than his years when he was a child and carrying a briefcase to school (for which he was bullied):
"I didn't want to carry a book bag. I thought it looked messy."
• Random fact alert: Tom Ford used to be an actor and did a lot of commercials under a stage name, because there was already a Tom Ford in SAG (Note to self: Find out Tom Ford's alias and look up all the commercials.)
• On how a hairdresser on the set of a Prell commercial freaked him out:
"He said to me, 'You're gonna lose your hair.'"
• On what he did when he was an intern at Chloe in Paris during his schooling:
"I packed up shoes, I zipped things up, I sent things back to Vogue...the same things everyone does!"
• On long-time partner Richard Buckley:
"He keeps me grounded. So grounded that I'm down in a hole."
(This was said while laughing, and the most touching moments of the night were when he talked about Buckley.)
• On Marc Jacobs' lace dress at the Met Gala:
[long pause and small grin] "I like original fashion. I like people who are themselves, and Marc is certainly original."
• On hiring:
"Only hire people you want to have dinner with."
• On interviewing for a job with him:
"People come in and say, 'My favorite designer is Nicolas Ghesquiere.' Me, too, but you don't say that when you're interviewing with me!" [laughs]
•On "making it" in fashion:
"You never make it, especially in an industry where you have to contantly churn. In the last year I've had a comeback, I was finished, and I came back again."
• On pursuing a career in fashion:
"If there's anything else in the world you'd be happy doing, do that instead. It's a tough, tough business."
• On being commercial:
"I'm a commercial fashion designer. I always design jackets with two sleeves...For Alexander McQueen it was art."
• On an H&M collaboration:
"Oh, yeah I saw that I was doing that!...I've never had a conversation with H&M. What excites me now is the very best. Unfortunately that costs money."
• On an alternate career:
"In another life I'd love to be a cosmetic surgeon. You're an architect...and need to match up all the seams."
• On his favorite music:
Azealia Banks right now is amazing...and put the BeeGees on and there's no way you can be sad."
• On technology:
"I live on the internet [he said he's on his computer 8 hours a day], but I do not carry a cell phone. I want to be looking and living and engaged."
• On having a family:
"I've always wanted children. I think I better get going soon, though, if I want to be able to pick them up."
• On his favorite fashion moment:
"[Gwyneth at the Oscars] was one of my favorite fashion moments. I love that Gwyneth was brave enough to do it."