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Tom Ford

Ford: The hips. Hips are absolutely key to every shape I do, because whatever you do at the top or bottom, you want to keep it slim and narrow on the hips. One thing is for certain: No one, man or woman, wants big hips.

Q: Is there anything a woman should absolutely not wear?

Ford: Yeah. Anything she isn’t comfortable in.

Q: Has New York—and the life you led here during the late seventies, at Studio 54 and all of that—been an important influence in your work?

Ford: I love New York. It’s given me so much as a designer. When I moved here, I wanted to tap into the glamour of the city immediately. More than anywhere else, New York offers itself up—you arrive and get a rush in a flash. It’s dazzling. Everywhere you look, there is decoration, from a pair of jewel-encrusted shoes in the window in Bergdorf Goodman to the Chrysler Building. And New York is incredibly democratic. Everyone is packed into this tiny space. You are confronted with all manner of people, and I love that.

Q: Do you think the kind of carnival energy of Studio 54 will return?

Ford: Oh, sure. Maybe not to New York for a while. Right now, we’re having one of those in-between times of rest and recuperation, but you can’t get too down about it. Soon enough, the time will come when everyone thinks: I’m tired of feeling depressed, I’m tired of not buying anything, and I’m tired of never going out. Let’s throw a party. New York is always changing, and it will change again. But I do think not being able to smoke in a bar is carrying things too far.

Q: Has the recession affected the way you work?

Ford: I think the world around you should always seep into your work. My last show for YSL was full of color and pattern: color, color, color. And I think that was a reaction to what is going on right now; a desire for happiness and life, for excitement and escape. Fashion is, after all, a form of escapism, and in fact people are buying more special things than ever, right now. They deny and deny themselves, and wait and wait, and then they get sick of it and spend to make themselves feel better.

Q: Can you remember the first extravagant piece of clothing you bought?

Ford: It was a pair of white Gucci loafers. I was 13 years old. I had to have them. I drove my mother crazy until she got them for me.

Q: The Gucci man and woman are quite defined now; would you be comfortable handing the reins over to someone else?

Ford: I have no plans to hand over either collection. I don’t want to get into that at all. I’m not going anywhere. I love what I do.

Q: But you recently sold a lot of shares.

Ford: I did, but I sell some shares every few years, so there was nothing unusual in that.

“Real fashion change comes from real changes in real life. Everything else is just decoration.”

Q: Is the House of Gucci planning on doing any more shopping?

Ford: Not for the moment, no. We’ve got ten amazing brands. That’s enough for now.

Q: What is your relationship with your business partner Domenico De Sole like?

Ford: It’s great. We are similar in that we are both competitive, but very different in terms of our eyes and brains. We had a famous first argument, and we’ve been through a lot together, but Domenico is honest. I would trust him with my life.

Q: What was the argument about?

Ford: It was in a handbag meeting in the factory, in 1994. Domenico interrupted me. I screamed at him and told him he couldn’t ever ever do that to me again. We screamed at each other like crazy. Since then, our roles have been clearly defined, and there haven’t been any more problems.

Q: Is it true you get only three hours of sleep a night?

Ford: Sometimes I sleep even less. I find I can get so much done between midnight and 4 a.m. Everything is quiet, no one is disturbing me, and if I go to bed then, I just lie awake thinking of ideas. They are very creative hours for me. One night a week I crash out, though.

Q: What are you proudest of?

Ford: My personal relationships, and the fact that I’ve been able to maintain them for so long. I’ve had most of my friends since I was 16, 17, 21 years old. And a lot of people have been working for me for twelve, thirteen years. I’m very proud of that.

Q: Do you dance?

Ford: Of course I dance! I went to a party in Milan just the other day where I danced.

Q: Who or what inspires you?

Ford: Life. It sounds corny, but it’s true. People always ask me how I start a collection, and I tell them that I just look around. What am I tired of? What am I in the mood for? Real fashion change comes from real changes in real life. Everything else is just decoration.