World Champion Tom Ford
By Terry Richardson
For a fighter, he has impeccable control. He says a lot during our interview, but only as much as you feel he wants to give, mindful of how his words will read in print, or whether they'll come back to haunt him. He likes to differentiate between Tom Ford 'the product' and Tom Ford 'the human,' about whom he says, 'I'm extremely private.' His 20-year-plus relationship with former Vogue Hommes International editor Richard Buckley, 14 years his senior, suggests that his playboy demeanor is strictly for show. When he talks about their life together, it sounds as domestic and cozy as an episode of The Honeymooners: 'He's my family now -- it's different than it was when we first met, and why would I throw that away?' They've even designed sarcophagi in which to be buried 'because we're all going to die, so why not have fun with that? Why just be in a dull casket when you can be in a fabulous rosewood-and-granite sarcophagus in the middle of New Mexico?' Why, indeed.
Although not afraid of death -- 'I can totally imagine the world without me; I'm so unimportant' -- Ford thinks a lot about the futility of life. He recently emerged from a midlife crisis that engulfed him on his 40th birthday. 'All of a sudden I realized that 40 years had gone by and I had everything that I ever wanted, and yet I wasn't completely, deeply inside, happy or satisfied. It was like, Is that all there is? I had success early, and I had someone I loved already in my life, and dogs and family and houses and things, and yet I felt a little empty and I've just recently come out of that. It's a process. There's a great quote comparing midlife to reaching the top of the ladder only to realize that you've had it against the wrong wall. It wasn't so much about changing my outer life; it was a question of changing my inner life and living in the present.'
He concedes that in the wake of leaving Gucci he floundered for a new purpose, anxious that his old friends would melt away and that he'd be seen as yesterday's man. 'My life had been Gucci, and Gucci had been my life. I was working 24 hours a day right to the last day, and then -- boom -- my calendar was blank, like, forever, and I thought, What the fuck am I going to do? What the fuck am I going to do? It was a very hard transition.' Though he'd never imagined himself doing his own thing, he now recognizes that it was a natural progression. A brief stint in Hollywood in between has led to a promising movie project -- he wrote the script and will produce it -- but he worries he may jinx it with too much loose talk 'because God knows it may never get made, and someone will write in [the New York Post's] Page Six, 'Tom Ford's movie career fails'' '
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