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Tom Ford: “A watch should be discreet.”
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Tom Ford: “A watch should be discreet.”

Monday, 26 December 2016
By Frank Rousseau
Frank Rousseau

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4 min read

With his immaculate suit and impeccably groomed beard, Tom Ford continues to conjugate fashion in multiple forms. The Texan designer is also an all-round artist for whom film-making is a new means to express himself.

After the excellent A Single Man, make way for Nocturnal Animal. Tom Ford’s second stint in the director’s chair won him the Silver Lion Grand Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival, and he has no intentions of stopping there. A twenty-first-century Midas who turns all that he touches to gold, Mr Ford hasn’t put his name and magic touch to a collection of timepieces. Yet…

Would you say you're a nocturnal animal?

Definitely! [laughs] Like any creative person, my mind is constantly working overtime, making it impossible for me to get any rest without a couple of sleeping pills. Having said that, I enjoy working in the dead of night. I find it restful, calm. Most nights I sleep around three hours. Four to five at most, but three hours is enough for me to function perfectly.

On the subject of hours, how do you feel about watches?

I don’t own many, although currently I’m enjoying wearing this small Tank de Cartier. Like everyone else today I use a keyboard, and I noticed that a large watch got in the way of the flow of what I was typing, so I’d always end up taking it off. Whereas this watch is so light and discreet I don’t even realise I have it on. I wear it every day.

Tom Ford
Tom Ford
You've designed eyewear, clothes, fragrances, but strangely enough no watches.

I have actually designed watches for Gucci, and for a few other brands. I hope one day to create my own watch brand.

In the meantime, you recently "hacked" your Apple Watch.

That’s right! I like the Apple Watch for the functions it provides but I don’t like having one on my wrist. This gave me the idea to accessorise it differently, by adding a chain that replaces the strap. Now, whenever I need my Apple Watch, I just slip it out of my waistcoat pocket. A bit like a nineteenth-century fob watch. I like this union of ancient and modern.

Tom Ford
Tom Ford
So you hide your watch but you like to show off your cufflinks!

When friends come and stay on my ranch in New Mexico, they find me literally covered in turquoise jewellery, especially these huge bracelets that I tuck under jackets. In New Mexico, they fit right in but anywhere else, they just look out of place. Cufflinks are a compromise. I find them a great way to accessorise an outfit. I don’t generally like to waste time, whether getting dressed or for something else, but even though cufflinks are fiddly to put on, I don’t have a problem with them. They’re one of the things an elegant man should wear. They’re slightly old-fashioned, I know, but so stylish!

You must have hundreds of suits hanging in your closet…

You’d be surprised! I’ll let you in on a secret: I always travel with cabin baggage and just the one suit. But I do own a lot of suits, all virtually identical. It’s almost a uniform. When I’m in the US, on the other hand, you’ll see me in a cowboy shirt with a pair of boots, jeans, maybe a t-shirt sometimes. Thinking about it, I own more evening jackets, tuxes, that kind of thing, than actual suits.

Tom Ford
Tom Ford
What should every gentleman have in his wardrobe?

A suit is the key item. It has to be black, well-tailored, and never creased. Shirts should be white with a collar that fits. The fabric should be good quality and hang well. A belt shouldn’t be too long and whenever possible match the leather of your shoes, which should be black, well-polished and properly laced. Socks should be black too, and not too thick. You should have a white pocket square and glasses should be free from smears and ideally not hide your eyes. Not forgetting your watch, which should be discreet, never flashy. Forget about showing it off as a symbol of your shocking success! The case should be made from a noble material and mounted on a leather strap. No bright colours, please! The finishing touch is your fragrance. Nothing too sweet nor too woody. It should “say” who you are and convey a certain message at the same time. Caring for one’s appearance should be second nature. Coming back to watches, my view is that they should correspond to a given activity. Wearing a dive watch with a tux just doesn’t go. Unless you happen to be called James Bond! But that’s another story…

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