When Tom Ford first became Gucci’s creative director, few were paying attention. Ford was very much under the radar when he scored the job. For his 1994 debut women’s collection, Gucci’s publicist had trouble getting fashion journalists to even show up. Under the influence of what Maurizio Gucci had wanted, Ford’s debut collection was a flop and he was close to quitting immediately after. After Maurizio’s death and Ford’s bland debut, however, eyes were no longer focused on Ford and what he was doing so he decided to use that to his advantage and proceeded to design a collection that oozed sex appeal. The prevailing trends for womenswear at the time were grunge or minimal, but Ford believed women had the desire to look sexy again. As a result of this decision, Ford’s 1995 collection saw sexy, hip-hugging velvet pants and barely-buttoned silk shirts with nothing worn beneath.
At the end of his wildly successful 1995 show with Gucci, Ford ignored a part of his contract that stated he was not allowed to take a bow and bounded onto the runway to take his well deserved credit. When asked if that angered the company, Ford said “the next day you could not get into the showroom. It was absolute hysteria. So, no, no one gave me flak after that”. It wasn’t until his A/W ‘96 show, however, that Ford introduced some of his iconic motifs that remained consistent throughout his 10 year reign at Gucci. Ford was quoted saying that it was the show where “it all came together for the first time”. The show featured slinky white cut-out dresses, velvet tuxedo’s featuring his iconic wide lapels, oversized furs and chic pinstripes. For the show, Ford famously killed the back light and put a spotlight on each model going down the catwalk. This was to focus all of the attention on the looks and to stop the audience from becoming distracted by seeing one from another across the runway.
With nothing to hide and no one to tell him how to run things, Ford formed a power trio that included himself, Carine Roitfeld and Mario Testino. The three have been credited for revolutionising the industry together with their raunchy reboot of 90’s fashion. Carine Roitfeld and Mario Testino met on a photoshoot in 1990 and not long after began creating campaigns with Ford. Roitfeld styled everything for Ford, from his catwalk collections to his campaigns and Testino was there to shoot the majority. The trio were known for their controversial campaigns that pulled a lot of inspiration from, well, sex. Many of their campaigns were even banned in some countries. Clearly not ones to shy away from the controversy, Ford, Roitfeld and Testino collaborated most famously on a 2003 campaign that would disrupt fashion as people knew it at the time. Personally shaving a ‘G’ for Gucci into the pubic hair of a model, Ford emphasised and perfected it’s outline with an eyebrow pencil. According to Vogue, the year after this power trio began working together on it’s campaigns, Gucci’s sales increased by 90%, proving, once again, that sex sells.