The emotional ending of the Tom Ford era at Gucci was a look back in glamoura fabulous farewell in which this perfection-obsessed superstar of fashion seized the moment to run his eye over everything he has achieved for the brand, and then do it better. There is no doubt who the Gucci woman is: the embodiment of sexual confidence, burnished to a high gloss and bursting with predatory power. A symbolic figure of the past decade's hedonistic highs, she spike-heeled her way down a runway carpeted with pink fur, luxuriating in Ford's aesthetic one last time.
And it has become elaborate of late. Even when he cuts a mean-looking black skirtsuit, it will be fanatically worked to the body, ruched to the ribs, and pieced in multiple complex slivers to grip the derriere. So too with the jackets, which have become ultra-decadent amalgams of dyed fox, croc, and suede, cut to emphasize a big shoulder and clinch the torso in bursts of sunray patchwork.
The buildup began as Ford took his audience through a knowing, celebratory series of flashbacks. There were the blue velvet jackets of his first 1995 hit, paired with nude beaded pants from a later blockbuster. A new manifestation of the 1999 sellout white coat with a knotted leather belt, its glamour amped to overload with an entire white fox snaking the shoulders. Variations on the crystal-sprinkled flesh-colored goddess gown famously worn by Nicole Kidman at the Met, even more beautifully realized than the original.
Ford outdid himself as well with event-making eveningwear. There were slithering sequined mermaid gowns, the ultimate done in a fantastically evil shade of green and wrapped in an arrogant fox-and-chiffon stole. But the emotional crescendo came from the white cutout jersey dresses that closed the show. A reprise of Ford's favorite collection of fall '96, they came more softly draped and subtly constructed than the originals. He bestowed the best on Georgina Grenville, making a nostalgic comeback appearance in her role as the ultimate high-nineties Gucci model. She looked overwhelmed at the thunderous applause that accompanied her final walk, the perfect signoff to the extraordinary drama of Ford's years at Gucci.