Here, designer-director-hunk Tom Ford opens up on a range of surprising topics, from feeling like a loner to drinking too much post-Gucci to not existing sexually. Really!…
Mr. Ford, have you had a midlife crisis?
Yes. Leaving Gucci was devastating for me. Devastating because I had really put everything into that for fifteen years and all of a sudden I had no identity. “Who am I? What am I doing? I have no forum to speak to anyone anymore or to convey my thoughts or ideas.” Maybe I drank a little too much – living in London that’s a very easy thing to do. The emphasis in my life maybe switched to things that were not the important things. So yeah, I had a bit of a midlife crisis. I wish there was a better term for that. It comes to everybody, maybe in your thirties, maybe in your forties, maybe in your sixties or seventies, who knows. You get to the moment where you feel the clock is ticking and you are wondering if you are really getting the most out of your life.
If you have everything in life it is easier to lose yourself, it seems.
And if you do have everything it is also easier to understand that those are not the important things. Unfortunately a lot of people don’t get to that point. They spend their lives striving and still don’t learn those lessons. Other people figure it out at age twenty and they’re completely balanced and together and understand how to keep things in check from an early age.
How would you describe your current state of mind?
I feel that I don’t need anything for a good life. I grew up in New Mexico and the older I get I have less need for contemporary culture and big cities and all the stuff we are bombarded with. I am happier at my ranch in the middle of nowhere watching a bug carry leaves across the grass, listening to silence, riding my horse, and being in open space. So I have some sort of security that if I lost everything in my life, I would be very happy with the simple things because they are the ones that are important.
So the glamour you stand for doesn’t interest you?
After just being in New Mexico for two months, I realized that I could really work from anywhere. I am really a loner after all; I am really not a social person. Because of my job people think I am out every night, but I really hate all that. I am somebody who likes to be alone and see some close friends. I am a shy and introspective person.
Do you get the most inspiration from nature? It is the ultimate beauty, after all.
Yes, nature is the closest thing to God and I don’t mean God by any sort of religion but by the connection to the universe, which I think we have lost. The American Indians had that and where I live is actually the center of the Anasazi Indian civilization. I even have two huge Anasazi ruins on the property of my ranch. I am not saying that there definitely is some sort of spirituality coming from there, but there might be. When you are close to the earth and you get up when the sun comes up and you go to sleep when it goes down, it puts everything in perspective.
Yes, all the rest of this crap just fades away. We’ve lost our contact with the earth. Dogs don’t have guilt, dogs don’t have insecurity complexes, dogs don’t think that they need a bigger house than the other dog. Dogs are just completely themselves. They’re very in touch, they’re not thinking about their death. They are just rolling on their back, enjoying what that feels like. I think that is sort of the appeal of animals in our lives; that is what’s important.
Are you a spiritual person?
I am a spiritual person in an eastern religion kind of way. I learned that happiness for all of us is a switch that you flick in your brain. It doesn’t have anything to do with getting a new house, a new car, a new girlfriend, or a new pair of shoes. Our culture is very much about that; we are never happy with what we have today. We always think that we need something else to be happy.
This all sounds like you have a tough time living the Hollywood life that everybody expects you to.
I did have a tough time dealing with it and I have learned how to separate it. It is a performance; it is me playing a role. I am not saying that there are no aspects of it that I enjoy; I love beautiful women, beautiful dresses, and beautiful flowers. But all those things have to stay in perspective. There is nothing wrong with loving the fact that we are physical beings but you have got to keep them in perspective. It is just a diversion. It’s one of the nice things in life, like eating a great steak or kissing a good kisser – well, kissing a good kisser is maybe more valuable than all the other stuff – but these are things you have to leave behind when you leave the planet. When I am on my deathbed, I don’t think I will be thinking about a nice pair of shoes I had or my beautiful house. I am going to be thinking about an evening I spent with somebody when I was twenty where I felt that I was just absolutely connected to them.
Are you really that much of a romantic?
Yeah, I’m really a romantic.
How long does it take every morning for you to become that Tom Ford you were talking about before?
It takes me a long time in the morning to become the person that other people expect me to be. When I feel depressed and I have a bad day or something terrible has happened or I have to face something, I go through a very precise ritual getting dressed in the morning. In a sense it is armor; I’m building up a layer. If everything in my material world is in order, I will be able to get through it. That perfectionism comes from me being a Virgo. My inner world is related to my outer world. If my house is a wreck, I’m a wreck. If I am together, that’s together. That’s a kind of balance.
For many years you’ve shared your life with your boyfriend Richard Buckley. Is he your idea of a good life?
Richard is the person I love the most in the world and the person I have been together with for 23 years. So yes, but so are my dogs. I’ve asked myself, “If I were to die tomorrow what are the things that I will remember?” and I realized that nuzzling up with one of my dogs is one of the most precious things in my life! That would be something I would miss so much.
It must be important to have somebody that goes with you through that whole journey of life, somebody who shows you that it is not about the next fashion show or advertisement you shoot.
Of course it is. I am still friends with the people I went to school with. A lot of them have been working with me for the past 18 years. When you find somebody good, keep them! Keep them in your life.
Do you especially treasure the people you are close to because it is difficult for you to meet new people?
Honestly, I don’t meet very many people. I am married but no one comes on to me, ever. It is like I don’t exist sexually. No one, no one.
You are Tom Ford after all, so people probably think they don’t have a chance anyway.
Maybe that is the reason, but no one, no one flirts, no one comes on to me. Usually when people are personal with me, then they want to give me their business card at the end of the conversation.
So you wish you would get hit on more often?
Of course! (Laughs.) Why not? I am not saying I would act on it, but it would be nice.
The Talks is a weekly interview magazine concentrating on cultural figures.