Can Tom Ford, the brand, continue without Tom Ford, the man? Newly appointed creative director Peter Hawkings answer seems to be yes, and no.
It must have been a full circle moment for Hawkings, who much like Gucci’s debutant, creative director Sabato De Sarno, is a Ford-era Gucci veteran – a time that seems to have made a lasting impression on the newly appointed creative director who is now continuing on in his former mentor's footsteps. His debut, best described as a time capsule back to Ford's hedonistic days at the helm of the Italian fashion house, brought high-octane glamour and sex back on the runway.
Even though Ford himself was notably absent from his protégé's first show for the brand, having sold his eponymous label to Estée Lauder earlier this year, his spirit was omnipresent. Nods to the past weren’t exactly subtle, even if they were inverted. Floor length jersey dresses with gold-buckles reminiscent of Gucci Fall 1996 collection swapped cut-outs at the hip for low-backs and turned white into black, while velvet pant suits and silk shirts make it hard not to draw an immediate comparison to Ford’s Fall 1995 collection, even if pants turned into shorts in one or two cases.
Perhaps the most revolutionary part, especially for current day fashion shows – was the fact that every look without a doubt was paired with sky-high-stilettos and sunglasses, a favourite accessory of both, Ford and Hawkings, as well as clutch-bags and, in many cases, a load of gold bangles and chains for good measure.
If sex still sells remains to be seen
All this is not to say that Hawking's previous roles, first as senior menswear designer at Gucci before he joined Ford at his eponymous brand where he played an instrumental part in the creation of Tom Ford menswear, should be entirely disregarded. If anything the men and women of the Ford universe have never seemed closer, borrowing velvet suits and belly-button-baring shirts from each other's wardrobes with the nonchalance often associated with 70’s rock stars and their varying muses.
The Gucci-ness of it all might be coincidental, however it comes after two Gucci shows, designed by the brand's in-house design team that in many ways, for the lack of a better word, were very Tom Ford. Many of the silhouettes in the past two seasons have seemingly recalled Tom Ford‘s directorial reign from 1994 to 2004, most notably reviving the Gucci Horsebit Chain bag that was dug out straight from the archives after it had been first introduced by Ford for Fall/Winter 2003.
While Hawkings has proven that he can pay homage to the man whose namesake label he has taken over, some questions about his own vision for the future of the brand linger. Much like Tom Ford once did with his time at Gucci, to much critical and perhaps crucially, commercial acclaim, Hawkings has brought sex back into fashion last night – however, if sex still sells remains to be seen.