Tom Ford: I Do Everything Naked

Tom Ford Interview Magazine February cover
Photo courtesy of Interview Magazine
Tom Ford on the February cover of Interview.

Since unveiling his highly clandestine, self-titled Spring 2011 collection (modeled by celebrities) last September, Tom Ford has been on a publicity spree, first striking a pose on the December cover of Vogue Paris—he guest edited the issue—alongside 15-year-old model Daphne Groeneveld, then covering Out magazine, and now fronting the February 2011 issue of Interview, in which he is profiled by artist and friend John Currin.

Ford is known for issuing memorable sound bites, and a few years away from the fashion spotlight have certainly not depleted his entertainment value. In the wide-ranging interview, the designer deflects accusations that he exploits the female body, deeming himself an “equal opportunity objectifier” of both men and women—a role he clearly relishes.

He relates his ability to separate his sexual and aesthetic needs to his homosexuality and insists this is why “gay men make better designers.” He also reveals that he's a proponent of male nudity across the board, glibly stating that he does “everything” naked—including cooking, doing household tasks (if you can even imagine), and being interviewed (only once, by a veteran journalist).

Provocations aside, Ford insists he's misunderstood: He's an introverted guy, really—shy, sensitive and unmaterialistic. That last assertion is shocking—wasn't Gucci under Ford the very embodiment of the luxury-as-sex paradigm?

Tom Ford Interview Magazine February
Photo courtesy of Interview Magazine
The designer in one of his signature suits.

But Ford claims he “struggles” with the consumption habits of his chosen industry. “I’m one of the least materialistic people that exist, because material possessions don’t mean much to me,” he says. “They’re beautiful, I enjoy them, they can enhance your life to a certain degree, but they’re ultimately not important.”

However, things used to be different. The designer admits that in his youth his values were steeped in superficiality. As Currin accurately points out, Ford has developed a legacy of haute cultivation—for curating beautiful people and objects (and in Ford's world, the line between those blurs). These tendencies are even underscored in the meticulousness of the 2009 film A Single Man, which was Ford's directorial debut.

He says the first vision of beauty that struck him was his grandmother. “She was incredibly stylish, she had big hair, big cars. I was probably 3 years old, but she was like a cartoon character,” he says. Apparently, his penchant for hyperbole was genetic.

Did he enjoy things in their natural form? Not back then, Ford says, claiming he was spoiled by his New Mexico upbringing, in which sights of splendor like mountains, trees and sunsets became scenery he took for granted.

“I really thought the key to happiness was living a very artificial life in a penthouse in New York with martini glasses,” he quips.

He's since changed his mind: He journeys home to the Southwest as often as possible.