SEPTEMBER 16, 2020 – When I began working on this collection, we were under strict lockdown. The Coronavirus pandemic was in full swing. Social unrest was filling the news every day. I had been wearing the same dirty jeans, jeans shirt, tee shirt and trainers for weeks. I had not left the house in months. I was irritated when I had a Zoom meeting because it meant washing my hair and perhaps trimming my beard. At that time, the thought of designing a collection seemed frivolous when so many important and disturbing things were happening in our world. Our stores were all closed and fashion itself just seemed like an extravagance. It was hard to focus, to concentrate, and to be inspired.
My sample rooms in Italy and in Los Angeles remained closed for months. I honestly wasn’t sure if I could make a collection even if I felt inspired to do so. As this all dragged from Spring into the Summer and as I think we could all feel a global depression [both financial and psychological] worsening I thought about skipping the season altogether. After all when no one can go out of their house, who needs new clothes? If you can’t go to the office, why do you need a new suit? If there is not a dinner or a party to go to, why would you need a new dress? And heels seemed absurd altogether. I mean why would one walk around their apartment in a new pair of heels or sit and homeschool their kids in a pair of jeweled platforms? I felt that honestly fashion should simply go into hibernation for a year.
As this terrible pandemic wore on and the social unrest grew even more upsetting, my usual 24 hour per day habitual toggling between CNN and MSNBC started to make me feel physically ill as the news was increasingly dire. I found myself more and more drawn to old Hollywood films on TCM or even the mind numbing constant stream of renovations taking place on HGTV where the solution to all of life’s problems seems to be about “blowing out a wall” and creating “an island” in the kitchen. Quite simply, I found myself wanting to escape.
Once full lockdown was eased a bit in LA and I was able to have close friends over 2 at a time for a strict socially distanced dinner outside. I started to feel for a slightly more dressed world. A still casual world but one where I actually felt like making a bit of an effort to get dressed and I noticed that our guests seemed to feel that way too. Caftans [yes, I live in LA] or simple dresses and flat shoes but at least it was a start. Men too, seemed to want to put on a clean shirt, a nicely cut pair of pants and to actually wash their hair. There was a light at the end of the tunnel. Or at least an imaginary light: the hope of a happier time to come. That is what this collection is for me: the hope of a happier time. Still a somewhat casual moment as it relates to fashion but a time in which we need clothes that make us smile. Clothes that make us feel good.
One of the hundreds of television shows and films that I watched over the past six months was a documentary about the fashion illustrator Antonio Lopez. This film was released several years ago but I somehow never had time to watch it. It was brilliant and inspiring. I was the most inspired by the smiles of the models from the 70’s like Pat Cleveland or Donna Jordon.
The exuberance of those years between the pill and AIDS where life seemed to be more carefree. I was lucky enough to have photographed Pat Cleveland once and her energy left me literally high. We finished shooting at about 2:00 am and it actually took me hours to calm down enough to sleep. I felt like I had been doing cocaine all night and this was years after I had become sober. Pat is an inspiration. Her energy is an inspiration. She is joyful and inspiring.
Her makeup from the 70’s was also inspiring. I think that months and months of looking at people on Zoom with no makeup, dirty hair and bad lighting have made me long for the indulgence of full on makeup. Not only did I want to see smiles on the faces of the models but smiles with fully made up lips. I opted for vivid makeup in this collection as an expression of joy and happiness and a kind of extravagance that is not really extravagant at all as even in jeans and a tee shirt makeup can be an inexpensive way of feeling like perhaps there is a party to go to even if there is not. And it does of course look great on Zoom.
Sadly, not much has changed in our world as I show this collection: social unrest is worse than ever, and the pandemic seems to have simply paused for a moment waiting to pounce again in the fall in what many scientists predict will be an apocalyptic winter. Hopefully a vaccine will begin to change our lives by early 21. So I can only hope that by the time these clothes reach the stores in Spring 21 that it will be a more optimistic time. A time when we can all perhaps breathe a sigh of relief and begin to return to our lives as we knew them. The global zeitgeist always effects fashion and for me this longing for a hopeful spring translates into somewhat classic relaxed clothes but clothes that make me smile. Clothes to have a bit of fun in.
– TOM FORD