"Every product a man could possibly want," announced Tom Ford to a roomful of editors during a day of presentations in London for his latest collection for men. He wasn't kidding. And against the broad strokes of choice—like the five jacket silhouettes, the seven widths of tie—there were the small flourishes that defined Ford's manic eye for detail. Like the buttonholes of a made-to-measure suit, which demanded thirty-five man-hours to finish. It's always the buttonholes that bring out the real obsessives.
Distinguishing a collection that has, in the past, been fierce in its rejection of one extra kilo of imperfection was a new (semi-)generosity of spirit, perhaps influenced by Ford's work with Daniel Craig on the James Bond movies. He did, in fact, mention that his suit base had been modified for Mr. Muscle: the jacket not as skinny, the single-pleated pants trim but not tight, the waistcoat with a higher cut, giving it an early sixties secret-agent feel. The coats—boxier, cut short at the knee—and the clean lines of a roll-neck also echoed that era (though maybe more Harry Palmer than James Bond).
Ford differentiated between his women's and men's collections like this: Womenswear is very fashion, men's is very classic. But that distinction seemed a little on the reductive side for menswear that had enough quirky charm to take the chill off Tom's perfectionism this time round. He used to say he'd never do knits (never flattering, he felt), and yet they have evolved into one of the collection's strong points: lush in color, delightfully soft of touch and personal association. "I was wearing a Fair Isle sweater when I met Richard [his partner, Richard Buckley]," Ford said, holding up his reedition of that signal item. There were also Fair Isle socks, which we saw a lot of in well-turned ankles. ("You could always see Cary Grant's socks," the designer explained.) Items such as a cropped shearling, as well as a duffle coat that Ford said was his male version of the one worn by Ali MacGraw in Love Story, highlighted a real facility with deluxe sportswear, a healthy association for the label "Tom Ford," which is most often attached to penguin-suited superstars on the rarefied upper strata of the red-carpet world.
Those outdoorsy pieces were more pragmatic functionaries of the "every product a man could possibly want" ethos than the velvet slippers embroidered with art-nouveau nymphs. But typical of Tom to give new-world feet the gift of old-world decadence.