Numéro Homme: How are you?
Tom Ford: I’m very well! How are you?
Flustered, you’re such a dreamboat!
Yeah, yeah, yeah. (Laughs.)
What’s it like being Tom Ford?
That’s such a weird question. Who knows? I’ve only ever been Tom Ford, so it’s not like I have any means of comparison. I have a very nice life and I’m extremely lucky, so I’d be tempted to say: “It’s fucking fabulous!” I’m really happy, so it’s great!
To what extent is your everyday life a dizzying swirl of pool boys and pool parties, private jets and private islands, male masseurs and happy endings?
I hate to disappoint, but the pool boys, the parties, the drinks and the drugs are all part of a past life that I no longer live. These days, when I’m not running around taking my six-year-old son to school - or to birthday parties on the weekends -, I’m up to my neck in work… And whenever I do have a minute to myself, I play tennis.
You launched your eponymous label in 2006; why did you wait until now to launch the underwear?
I thought about launching it a few years ago, but until recently you needed a huge distribution network to be serious about the underwear business, and you couldn’t control what the points of distribution looked like, how the product was merchandised, bought, or positioned on the shop floor. Which was something that I just didn’t feel was right for the brand. And then, like most people, I started shopping almost exclusively online. A couple of years ago, I realized that you could actually tap into the younger generation of clients by using the Internet as the primary distribution network. My underwear line will therefore be available in my own stores and a few key retail partners that we already do a big business with - so that we know how it will be displayed and sold – and it will also be available online, through a few handpicked outlets. And so I think we can develop a strong business while maintaining the right image for the brand.
“Some guys are born with large, loose testicles. Others are born with small balls… in which case you’re better off sticking to boxers, so that you can look forward to having a normal-sized pair by the time you grow old.”
Do you wear boxers or briefs?
I don’t wear underwear. Back in my days at Gucci, people seemed to be obsessed with that question and they’d always ask me about it. On one occasion, at the height of my drunken period, I was speaking to a journalist that you know - I won’t name names – and we were both completely smashed. At one point she blurted: “I can’t believe you don’t wear underwear! Do you really not wear any underwear?” So I unzipped my fly and whipped out my penis, and Richard [Buckley, Tom Ford’s husband] grabbed me by the scruff of my collar, dragged me away from the paparazzi and said: “What the hell do you think you’re doing? Zip up your pants!” Richard used to think I was crazy because I’d take my clothes off on Friday night and wouldn’t put them back on all weekend. I would even have dinner in the nude, to his utmost annoyance. However, since we had Jack [Tom Ford and Richard Buckley’s son], I’ve started wearing pants at home. When you have a kid, all of a sudden you get a nanny, and then before you know it there are all these people in the house, so I started wearing underwear to get up in the morning and to go and have my cereal, and to sleep in, too, if ever Jack has a bad dream, and I have to get up in the middle of the night and run down the hall.
Don’t ask me why, but I always imagined you wearing Calvins.
Calvins? That’s so funny that you would imagine me wearing Calvins! I’ve never worn Calvin Klein underwear in my life. I hate to say, but I’m a little old now to be wearing tighty-whities. It’s important to realize where you are in life. I prefer something looser. If anything, I wear Brooks Brothers boxers.
Is there any truth to the urban legend that wearing loose boxers causes your testicles to droop?
Some guys are born with large, loose testicles. Others are born with small balls… in which case you’re better off sticking to boxers, so that you can look forward to having a normal-sized pair by the time you grow old. Beyond that, I don’t think there’s much you can do to stop them from sagging, whatever the underwear you wear. Having said that, I do think that someone might want to invent a testicle lift, in the same way that women have breast lifts. I mean, why shouldn’t guys be able to have things turned out and tightened up, too?
For your Autumn/Winter 2018-2019 menswear show, you matched the colour of each model’s underpants to their skin tone. Why do you think that until recently, the colour “nude” only referred to a white person’s skin?
I don’t know, I think that is so strange. Producing them in every skin tone made total sense to me. First of all, I love the idea of nude underwear, because when you take off your trousers and you walk around, you literally look naked. I remember when women like my mother used to wear skin-coloured pantyhose in the sixties – if I’m not mistaken, Queen Elizabeth still does. You would go to a shop and they would have all these shades of skin tones ranging from pale, to tan, and dark… And I thought: “What a great idea! Why hasn’t anyone made a range of skin tone underwear for guys?”
“Unless you’ve got an outstandingly firm butt, you really can’t be seen wearing a jockstrap. A jockstrap only ever works on someone who’s 21. No one wants to see a pound of middle-aged flesh strung up like a salami.”