Fluorescent pink blazers and diamanté skivvies stormed down the runway at the Park Avenue Armory on New York’s Upper East Side for Tom Ford’s SS18 collection. His message was clear: invitations to his latest collection arrived with a bottle of the brand’s latest fragrance, F***ing Fabulous.
With a business reported to be nearing $2bn in sales, Golden Globe nominations for his latest film, and high-wattage friends packed in the front row — Kim Kardashian West! Cindy Crawford! Chaka Khan! — fabulous is Tom Ford’s forté. It’s what he did at Gucci in the 1990s, transforming the near-bankrupt fashion house while commanding the scene with his own flashy milieu.
This was nearly as good as he promised. The waiters after the show beckoned with their champagne, knee-high socks and barely-there athletic shorts. They almost made you forget about the rain outside. They nearly had you putting down your phone, despite the breaking news alerts as Hurricane Irma barrelled over the Caribbean; the push notification that a Russian company linked to the Kremlin had purchased ads on Facebook during the US election campaign.
The sharp cuts of his two- and three-button blazers, here on the models Joan Smalls and Binx Walton, weren’t simply flamboyant; they were sexy and demanded attention.
Ditto the desert-sand-coloured one-piece bathing suits under cream trousers; ultra-mini chainmail dresses that skimmed not thigh but hip bone; stark white bras with wide-peaked lapel blazers and wide-leg belted pants — seemingly all with three- or four-inch pumps.
Some of the looks needed a benign backdrop, perhaps the 1980s or 1990s, to set the tone. It all recalled his earliest successes at Gucci. But times have changed in the interim and his brand of glamour is harder to digest today.
Ford got closest to bridging the gap between eras with a series of fine, body-hugging finale dresses. The floor-length ruched frocks in blush pink, black and chartreuse were sheer — there was plenty of VPL — but sleeves were made up of an intricate disco ball-like reflective material. It was a kind of armour, and yet it needn’t have tried. The dresses exerted their own cocky power, without calling to mind any underlying anxiety. If anything, that’s a prescription many of Ford’s customers are after. If he can bottle it, even better.