Tom Ford has redefined the role of fashion designer. Tom was born in Austin, Texas, in 1961. He spent his teenage years in Santa Fe, New Mexico, before enrolling on an art history course at New York University. In Manhattan, Tom’s extracurricular activities included acting in TV advertisements and hanging out at both Studio 54 and Warhol’s Factory. He eventually transferred to architecture at Parsons School of Design in New York and Paris, but by the end of the course Tom realised he wanted to work in fashion. In 1986, back in New York, he joined the design studio of Cathy Hardwick, moving to Perry Ellis two years later as design director. In 1990, Tom became womenswear designer at Gucci. In 1994, he was made creative director at Gucci and the following March showed a landmark collection. His velvet hipster trousers and jewel-coloured satin shirts – unbuttoned to the navel and impossibly lean – were part of a slick, alluring package of unapologetic flash and sex appeal. Almost overnight, Gucci became a byword for desirability, offering the most aspirational and hedonistic kind of fashion. When the Gucci Group purchased Yves Saint Laurent in January 2000, Tom began designing menswear and womenswear for Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche. In 2002 he was awarded Accessory Designer of the Year for his work, and soon earned the titles of both creative director of the Gucci Group, and vice-chairman of the management board of Gucci Group. In 2004 Tom departed the company and exactly one year later announced the creation of the Tom Ford brand, which today includes luxury men’s ready-to-wear and made-to-measure clothing, footwear and accessories, fragrances and an award-winning eyewear label. Tom opened his flagship store in New York in 2007. He has received dozens of industry awards, including four from the prestigious CFDA and five from the VH-1/ Vogue Fashion Awards. Meticulous in his own personal appearance, Ford has won Elle magazine’s Style Icon Award and GQ’s International Man of the Year Award. In 2009, he turned his hand to film, directing and writing the screenplay for A Single Man, from Christopher Isherwood’s novel of the same name. The oscar-nominated film was a beautifully executed masterpiece. In October 2010, Tom debuted his womenswear collection in New York to critical acclaim.