Tom Ford may not be the out-there-in-front influencer he was in his Gucci days but he’s still a style-driver for certain segments of the market and he’s also a style reflector, absorbing and disseminating trends that can become more mainstream once removed from the rarefied world of the runway.
He kicked off New York Fashion Week on Wednesday (didn’t that creep up on us quickly?) and while NYFW isn’t always the hotbed of trends that it might be, there was plenty to tap into in the TF offer.
Love that lace
It’s not a new trend, but it’s clearly one that’s a keeper with lace trims one of the strongest style statements on the Ford runway. Lace was used to edge skirts and to reveal/conceal the body higher up. It worked as an extra softener for the look along with fluid silks but also helped to take the hard edge off tough leathers.
Cool on colour
“Given the harshness of the world, a softer colour palette seemed right to me this season,” the designer said. “Shades of nude and skin tones look especially beautiful to me right now. Flesh colours are sensual and have a warmth and humanity that I think that we all crave at the moment. Warm white, powder blue and the palest of lilacs and blush pink are important colours in the collection.” It worked and helped tone down some of the in-your-face glamour that can make Tom Ford collections feel a little OTT.
Ford also said (lest we should think he was deviating too far from his norm) that “black is always a colour that I love working with. Black frames the face of the wearer and emphasises a silhouette like no other colour can. There is a kind of security in black.” And he used it to good effect in soft silks, sheers and the lace, as well as harder-edged mock-croc leathers. The contrast of a deep black waist-defining belt with a softer-toned black silk dress looked strong, as did the unexpected pairing of a black tux with cool pink satin lapels.
Ford has gone mad for mock-croc this season and his show notes emphasised that it’s definitely mock – this is a world in which exploitation of exotic species for fashion in increasingly frowned upon, after all. It made an impact as shiny black moto jackets or khaki leather blazers and was a big endorsement for a leather finish that has been less in favour in recent seasons.
Tom Ford doesn’t really do casualwear but the formality of his women’s day and evening looks was tempered by the addition of dressed-down touches such as a silk vest with a slip skirt, or those moto jackets (that also played up the hard/soft contrasts seen throughout). Taking the mood beyond the runway and applying it to the high street, it means that leather jackets, even denim jackets, can take their place as evening pieces for the forthcoming party season – as long as what’s worn with them has a strongly feminine edge.
Deep waist belts with asymmetric peplum attachments underscored the importance of the waist as a key erogenous zone and hinted at much more potential for belt sales. In fact, Ford said he made sure that soft dresses were “almost always” anchored by a ‘corset’, often in leather to emphasise the waist. Add to that slim blazers with a defined seam at the waist and you have a major facial point for the season ahead.
Whether it was the soft sheen of subtle silks, the striking impact of a men’s brocade jacket or the gloss of that mock-croc, shine was to the fore. But Ford avoided some of his usual excesses with sequins nowhere to be seen. Given that sequins have been a big success story across the fashion sector in recent years, that’s either an unwise move or a sign that they’ve maybe had their day – you decide.
Asymmetric skirt cuts, silks that flow around the body, frothy feathered outerwear and long shimmering fringes all underlined the importance of fluidity in fashion, even when contrasted with heavy, tough leathers. These clothes were meant to move around the body and show the shape underneath, less as a Kim Kardashian-style hourglass and more as a subtle statement about feminine curves. For once, this means that retailers usually better known for their tracking of cool influencer labels such as Jil Sander could take a few notes out of the Tom Ford playbook this time.
A further nod to the casualisation of fashion, Ford’s play of hard and soft spilled over into the accessories and his newest bags are unlined and unstructured, and Big (with a well-deserved capital B) “allowing the beauty of the leather to give them their appeal.”
Leopard: last but never least
Leopard is big news for the current season and seems to have hit the point at which (like denim or a white shirt) it’s a classic outside of fashion. Tom Ford used it more as an add-on than an overpowering style statement but in that respect he also showed how there’s a leopard look even for consumers who aren’t full-on leopard lovers. A leopard top with matching jacket doesn’t overwhelm a day or evening look while a belt is a strong style statement that’s never OTT.