Ford had long been an avid follower of
two of America's top designers,
Klein, much like Ford, was a 'superstar
the exemplar of his own brand: stylish,
suave, and modern. His scandalous advertisements
made the brand synonymous with eternal youth
and the mystery of adolescent sexuality.
Lauren, as Ford described, was
the only designer to really create an entire
you know exactly what his people look like,
what their houses look like, what kind of
cars the drive,
a mantra he would adopt at Gucci years later.
But where Ralph Lauren embodied the
WASP culture of New England, Ford created
a lifestyle brand for the hedonistic, urban-dwelling
fashionistas who emblemized the brand in
Ford's 1995 ready-to-wear line for Gucci
dazzled fashion critics. The collection
was reminiscent of the jet-set clientele
that created a buzz around the label in
the 1970s, with its unbuttoned silk shirts
and tight velvet hip-huggers. "It was
hot! It was sex!" Joan Kaner, fashion
Neiman Marcus, exclaimed. "The
girls looked like they had just stepped
off someone's private jet. You just knew
that wearing those clothes would make you
look like you were living on the edge
doing it and having it all!"
While Ford's 1995 ready-to-wear line
was met with rave reviews by industry insiders,
it was the celebrity following that would
propel Gucci back to the top of the industry.
Madonna appeared at the
Video Music Awards to collect an award
Take A Bow
in head-to-toe Gucci. Soon thereafter,
Gwenyth Paltrow graced the red carpet
in the season's signature look, a red crushed
velvet tuxedo with an unbuttoned blue dress
shirt, and British actress
Elizabeth Hurley donned that season's
patent leather spiked boots to a movie premiere.
Celebrities, fashion models, and wealthy
young patrons around the world were clamoring
for pieces from the new collection. In the
years that would follow, nearly every major
Hollywood came to Ford for formalwear
on awards night, and celebrity sightings
once again became commonplace in the company's
Gucci's warm reception among the glitterati
had an unintended side effect: the elevation
of Tom Ford from designer to sex symbol.
Practically overnight, Ford became one of
the most celebrated new stars in entertainment.
He graced the pages of entertainment and
fashion magazines alongside advertisements
that featured his company's sexy new look.
People Magazine called him one of the
50 most beautiful people of the year. The
defining characteristic of Ford's work was
what came to be known as the
Gucci sex factor.
His spring 1996 collection, which was reminiscent
of the flower child fashions of the early
and mid-1970s, continued Ford's signature
trend of sky-high hemlines and plunging
necklines. By his third collection, it became
clear that the highly suggestive advertisements
and scanty clothing were not passing fads
at the generations-old fashion house, but
rather the attribute that would set Gucci
apart from its competitors.
Gucci Group became a publicly traded
company in 1995, incorporated in the Netherlands,
and listing on the New York and
Amsterdam Stock Exchanges. It issued
further shares in 1996.