Ford had two early role models in fashion: his mother and grandmother. “My mother was very chic, very classic,” he recalls. “My paternal grandmother was very stylish in a very Texas way—everything big and flashy, from jewelry to car.” Ford would later combine those two styles as he reinvented Gucci’s image in the mid-1990s. “The images of beauty you get in your childhood stick with you for life,” Ford later explained. “So there’s a certain flashiness at Gucci—Texas-inspired—with a certain Western feel.
Ford completely revamped Gucci’s image—replacing the minimalism of the early 1990s with updated retro looks that oozed sex appeal. He expanded the company into a host of new ventures, including men’s and women’s sportswear, eveningwear and home furnishings. Under Ford’s leadership, Gucci acquired the venerable French brand Yves Saint Laurent, fueling remarkable growth in the company’s sales. Over the course of the decade, Ford served as Gucci’s driving force (1994-2004), and the company’s annual sales increased from $230 million to $3 billion.
One of the most decorated designers of his generation, Ford has won numerous fashion awards for his work with Gucci and his own Tom Ford Brand. He has won five Council of Fashion Designers of America awards, four VH1/Vogue Fashion Awards and was named 2001’s GQ designer of the year.