After two seasons of the most underwhelming New York Fashion Week known to man—alas, we’re all just doing our best!—Tom Ford reckons that in-person shows will be back and more exciting than ever in September, and he’ll be their biggest cheerleader. The legendary designer put his ring light to good use and joined the Times‘ fashion director Vanessa Friedman for his first-ever IG Live conversation about the industry this afternoon, in which he talked about the challenges that he’s faced both at his own brand and as chairman of the CFDA.
As per a press release yesterday, Ford’s virtual collection reveal is being delayed until next week. The designer explained to Friedman that it’s due to a COVID outbreak at his Los Angeles atelier. “We’ve had people sewing at home, but what people don’t understand is that fashion is so collaborative,” he said. “We can do a lot of things virtually and we’ve gotten a lot better at it. We can communicate pretty well, but the final putting together of everything, it’s crucial to do it together.”
He also revealed that it’s pretty typical for him to “cut up, move around, and rework” his garments mere days before a collection reveal: “Absolutely! Everyone does,” he told a shocked Friedman. “You work until the last minute! If you think of a good idea two days before a show, you can’t not use it. You won’t want it next season!”
When pressed by the journalist about the changes he’s enacting at the CFDA, Ford talked about why it was decided to rename the show schedule to the American Collections Calendar.
“The purpose of the CFDA, which is still one of its primary purposes, is to elevate American fashion in the world. It was originally a PR move to help globalize American fashion, and that’s still the reason. We have a lot of great American designers who’ve chosen to show in Paris. Why shouldn’t we claim that and help them? Help them promote wherever they’re showing. They’re still contributing to the global fashion conversation—even though I hate that phrase!”
Ford assured the online audience that New York Fashion Week, as a pivotal physical platform, will still continue and remain a priority: “New York Fashion Week is going to continue,” he said. “I’ll show, hopefully, in September. Let’s hope in person.”
“This season, it’s really about uploading shows or lookbooks,” he clarified. “A show…used to be about presenting your clothes to long lead press and buyers. It’s now about an Instagrammable moment. You need a convergence of a lot of people in the community [for that]. It’s a PR mechanism; a way to get as many images of your clothes and what you do out into the world. Those live show that happen in cities on a schedule with everyone coming into town—it’s very effective.”
However, the L.A-based designer is keenly aware that there’s still major need for change—despite acknowledging that the system may very well just return to its old ways.
“We don’t need to travel as much as we thought,” he said. “Not necessarily all together, all the time. We’ve learned to work, like everyone, via Zoom. [But] you cant accomplish the same thing in a film or virtual show. It’s the electricity in the room: it cant be captured on film. It’s like the performance of a play. Fashion shows also give all the journalists a moment to talk and decide is this good, bad, or the way it’s going…A concentration of trends happens when you bring everyone together and there’s constant in-between show talk.”
Ford also delved into the diversity-focused changes he’s spearheading at the CFDA, his thoughts on why pre-collections are still important for business (“We’ve trained the consumer to think there’s something new every few months!”), what his good friend Stella McCartney taught him about sustainability, buying back his Gucci and Saint Laurent archives, and why he’s looking forward to trading in his “dirty jeans and jean shirt” to get dressed up again as soon as he can.
Watch the full conversation below!
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