While there might be tons of high profile designers in the world of fashion, tonight’s CFDA Lifetime Achievement Award winner Tom Ford belongs in his own bracket of celebrity. Woman around the world are are willing to pay nearly $50—about five times the cost of the average drugstore brand—for a tiny tube of his luxurious lipstick. His gowns are so coveted that actress Hayden Panettiere was willing to actually pay for the privilege of wearing one. Jay Z wrote an entire song about him.
But none of those are the real reason he’s being honored tonight. No, that would be because, as Bridget Foley stated in this morning’s issue of WWD, he "changed fashion" with his brilliant work at Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent (pre-name change) and now, his own namesake label. So what has he learned, and how has he changed along the way? Foley sat down with the fashion legend to find out. Read on for highlights from their interview—including his thoughts on Botox, Hollywood and social media.
On how far the world has come in accepting gay marriage:
"Even the way people sent notes that said congratulations [in my marriage to Richard Buckley]. I ran into a business meeting and people said it in a way that anyone would congratulate anyone. It is odd for someone who was at the tail end of growing up in a world in which it wasn’t OK. It isn’t odd the last 20 years, maybe even longer."
On why he isn’t worried about his son Jack being a toddler and making a mess:
"Jack’s not like that. He’s just not."
On why he first fought social media at his show:
"I tried. I failed. I tried to change that. I wasn’t anti-Internet. I was anti-seeing something six months in advance. If you can make it available immediately, then yes, yes, of course it makes total sense. I was just looking through a retail magazine and I saw something I loved when it came out [on the runway]. Now it feels old, and it’s only now being shipped to the store. The look feels photographed and worn. But I failed. It’s a part of popular culture I can’t not participate in. Once I reached a certain scale, I had to go along with it."
On getting older:
"Once I was on a set with two models, a male model and a female. I thought in my head, ‘These are people I could probably sleep with.’ And then I heard one of them refer to me as old—I was 38 years old. It was one of those little milestones that made me think, ‘OK, I’m this age. I am old enough to be their father.’"
On why he’s given up Botox:
"I’ve decided to age. Since we’ve had Jack I haven’t had a Botox injection or a filler. I haven’t had time."
On the red carpet:
"I loathe it. It’s not about dressing everybody. It’s about dressing the right person in the right thing to create a truly memorable moment. What you see on the red carpet has nothing to do with what’s happening in fashion."
On designing wedding dresses:
"It isn’t collaborative. Girls come in with a notion of their childhood vision. Most weddings, girls come to you with pictures, some of them had them in their diaries since they were 17. They may say, “I always wanted you to design my dress.” It doesn’t matter [what they say]. It doesn’t matter how much they’ll pay because there are really a lot of wealthy girls out there. You’re not a designer. You’re a servant."
On why retouching is okay:
"I don’t think things are so retouched today. But why wouldn’t people expect pictures to be altered? [Fashion advertising] is not about the models, it’s about the image. She’s no longer a person; she’s an image. The way we talk—“she has no neck; her legs are stumps”—of course she has a neck. But the image isn’t an image of real person. It’s an idealized image."