Kristen Bateman’s New Tom Ford Book Is Here—And She Shares Its Greatest Fashion Surprises

The fashion journalist's new book celebrates Ford's impact across fashion, film, and more

by Aaron Royce
Tom Ford, fashion, designers, books, Kristen Bateman, The Little Book of Tom Ford

Tom Ford’s career in fashion is a storied one—and now, it’s been memorialized in a brand-new book. Fashion journalist Kristen Bateman has just released the Little Book Of Tom Ford, which covers his career beginnings to his iconic designs for Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent—plus his own namesake brand and film projects. To mark the release, we sat down with Bateman to discuss her writing processes, why now was the right time for a Tom Ford book, her favorite runways, and what’s next.

Tom Ford, fashion, designers, books, Kristen Bateman, The Little Book of Tom Ford

The Little Book of Tom Ford (Courtesy of Kristen Bateman)

How you first choose to write a book on Tom Ford and his career?

He’s one of the most legendary designers of our time, having worked at Gucci, YSL and his own namesake brand, and his influence spans across fashion, culture and beauty—even lifestyle, if you think about the homes he owns, which are also mentioned in the book. I’m very interested in fashion history and delving deeper into subjects that seem buzzy or timely, so Tom Ford seemed like a great topic.

Tom Ford, fashion, designers, books, Kristen Bateman, The Little Book of Tom Ford

Kristen Bateman (Courtesy of Kristen Bateman)

Why was now the right time to release the book?

Since he recently sold his company and is no longer involved with his namesake brand, it’s a very good time to look back and see what he’s done. He has said he’s going to be focusing on film, but I think everyone is waiting to see what’s next. I also think vintage and archival fashion has never been more popular, and there’s a greater interest in taking a look back at the past and fashion history in general. Tom Ford-era Gucci bags are very popular right now, as are many of his other archival pieces. This book serves as a great guide to what he’s done in fashion and his impact, all in one easily digestible place.

Tom Ford, fashion, designers, books, Kristen Bateman, The Little Book of Tom Ford

Tom Ford (Courtesy of Kristen Bateman)

Tell us about the book—what topics does it cover on Mr. Ford?

The book covers Tom Ford before he started in fashion, his early career spanning his work at Gucci and YSL, the creation of his namesake Tom Ford line, his beauty line, those scandalous campaigns, the Tom Ford aesthetic, the Tom Ford muses, his work in film, the rise of Tom Ford-era Gucci and YSL pieces being so covetable on the secondhand market, and a little bit of what’s next for him and the brand. I wanted it to be informational and inspiring, but not academic. It’s a fun read that is entertaining—and I hope even Tom Ford devotees will walk away learning something new.

Did you speak with any of Tom’s collaborators, colleagues or acquaintances for the book? What did they have to say about him? 

The most important thing for me actually was going through archival interviews that he’s done early on—before he was so famous and iconic! Back then, the industry was much less controlled by PR, and I feel like designers spoke a lot more freely, so there’s some really epic quotes. Also, looking at how well-known fashion critics at the time perceived his work as it was presented in the 1990s or early 2000s. A lot of those interviews are harder to find, and I feel like they add a lot of context and research to the book that someone wouldn’t necessarily get with a quick Google search, or by watching a TikTok video, or seeing something on social media, for instance. And yes, there are also some soundbites woven in throughout the book from his muses and collaborators.

Tom Ford, fashion, designers, books, Kristen Bateman, The Little Book of Tom Ford

An excerpt from The Little Book of Tom Ford (Courtesy of Kristen Bateman)

What were some surprising or interesting things you learned about Tom while writing this book? 

It’s worth noting the huge trickle-down influence his work at Gucci and YSL had in particular, as well as the influence of his mid-2010s campaigns on the rest of the fashion industry. I think a lot of people think of Tom Ford and his early work as minimalist, but there’s a very heavy maximalist side that I loved exploring. His perspective on film is also really interesting, as he has said working in film is closer to being an artist than being a fashion designer. He also considers his films to be autobiographical in nature.

Tom’s design career spans Gucci, YSL and his own brand—which are all regarded as major eras in fashion history. Do you have any favorite shows or collections of his, and did they make it into the book? 

Yes, I love the more experimental and colorful YSL Fall 2004 collection. Gucci Spring 1999 was probably my favorite Tom Ford-era collection for Gucci—the floral prints, embellished jeans, and iconic metallic tinsel dresses are everything. I personally also love the accessories and styling of the later Tom Ford collections, like supersized crystal hoop earrings, black headbands, and leopard prints in bright red and green for Fall 2018. One of my favorite collections to write about in the book was Ford’s last collection for his namesake brand before he sold the company, for Spring 2023. The vibe was super emotional at the show, because I think a lot of people were thinking this might be his last show—but it wasn’t official yet. I’m happy that I was able to document it in the book. Even though the book is relatively small, it has about 100 photos inside, so you can really get a sense of the different work and eras over the decades of his career.

Tom Ford Spring ’23 (Courtesy of Tom Ford)

It’s been a busy year for you so far! What else is coming up for you in the future—any big plans or projects for the fall or winter?

I also have two more books coming out later this year, one on maximalist interior design and another on Zendaya’s style influence. I’m working on a couple other fashion books I haven’t announced yet for 2025. I’m excited to continue writing about fashion from all different angles, with my books and my regular journalism. I hope to write some fiction in the near future, too! And I’m always working on my jewelry brand, Dollchunk.

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