Designer Tom Ford will forever be remembered as the guy who saved Gucci. He’s got his own empire now, but when he became Creative Director at the luxury fashion house in 1994, the company was bankrupt. By 1999, sales had increased by over 90 percent and the company was worth billions.
But from his ads to the often eyebrow-raising things that come out of his mouth, the man is no stranger to controversy. In an interview published by Time Out Hong Kong on Monday, Ford got himself into trouble. Time Out Hong Kong wanted to know if Ford understands the differences between Western bodies and Asian bodies, but the designer thought those questions were "regionalistic" and even "borderline racist."
So he went instead with his own overtly racist assessment.
When asked by Time Out Hong Kong whether his new collection would fit everybody, he responded:
Well, I have to say if we have to talk about things like this, Americans are too fat. And in London they are starting to get fat too. So I have to say that if we have to talk about race system and nationalism, I find it refreshing that everyone [who is] Chinese is slim.
On casting models of color on his runway because he’s colorblind:
I’ve always been quite multicultural and it’s funny that someone asked me in an interview yesterday if I had any Asian friends. I felt that was such a strange question. When you grow up in America, contrary to popular belief, we are racially blind because we’ve had Japanese and Chinese families, five generations, living in America. So we grow up with Asian-Americans, African-Americans, European-Americans. And I don’t think she’s my Asian friend. She’s my beautiful friend, she’s my dumb friend that asks me crazy shiii… she’s my fabulous friend, she’s my chic friend, she’s my… I’m colourblind. When you do a fashion show it’s very important and it’s a responsibility to represent a multicultural cast.
On how he doesn’t see race. He sees form and balance:
I don’t really see race. I always feel really sad when I see, and I don’t mean this in a racial way, other than maybe more Korean… I feel really sad when I see girls who have had their eyes, you know, Westernised, so to speak.
Often you see women who’ve had surgery to eliminate the hood over the eye to make their eyes… It’s a very common surgery; they have their hoods removed to look more Caucasian or European than Asian. I find it very sad because I think they are very beautiful like they are. Their faces have a balance to them and beauty.
So there you have it. Tom Ford is indeed "colorblind," but he does recognize certain features people of certain ethnic backgrounds have.
You can read Ford’s entire interview at Time Out Hong Kong, where among other subjects he also discusses Alexander McQueen and John Galliano.