Archive for June, 2008

Tom Ford: Milan

Posted in Tom Ford on June 27, 2008 by moderngatsby

Come Saturday, the fashion crowd descends on Milan to see Men’s Spring Summer 09 collections and one name will be on everyone’s lips: Tom Ford. It’s been four long years since Mr Ford vacated the creative director position at Gucci but he’s returning to Milan in timely style to open his first retail store in Europe. Fashion notables will be given a walk around the five floors, 9,000 sq ft space at Via Verri 3, on Monday 23rd, in the middle of fashion week. But we couldn’t wait till then so quizzed the man himself a few days before to find out how he feels about returning to the city where he made his name…


We love your label for its unapologetic formality. Where does your passion for formal dressing come from?

Formality feels right to me right now. At a time when fashion is getting increasingly more casual and broken down, I think that ‘dressing up’ shows that the wearer has self-respect and respect for the people around him. Maybe it is also a reaction against all the trends out there in menswear at the moment. Formal is just how I want to dress right now.


What inspires you?

I am inspired by everything around me.


What does it mean for you to be opening a store of your own label, under your own name, in Milan particularly, given the success you had here under Gucci?

It is great to be doing something that is purely 100% my own taste, my own vision, my own creation from the ground up. It is also wonderful to be returning to Milan which is one of my favourite cities in the world. It is not only Italy’s fashion capital, but it is also the Italian home of luxury menswear.


Do you see a progression in your work as a designer?

The progression of my work as a designer very much follows the progression of me as a person. As I grow older, I see myself and the world differently. I have different role models and different values. Authenticity has become increasingly important to me in my life and in my work.


What bespoke services are available in your Milan store?

We will offer the same made-to-measure services in all of our Tom Ford flagship stores. It is not a bespoke service from the ground up. We work off four different bases, we take your measurements, work out which base is right for you, modify it, send it to our factory, and when it comes back we have a sample room in the store where we can do dramatic alterations. When you go to a bespoke tailor, you can have almost anything made. When you come to us, you come for a certain Tom Ford look and then it’s modified. This is a hybrid that did not exist. We offer much more customization than you can get from any other design company. At the same time, it has more of a personal stamp than Savile Row.

This is your second flagship – how many more have you planned, where and when?

We will be opening directly operated Tom Ford flagship stores in Milan, London, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas over the next 2 years as well as free standing stores in Baku, Moscow, Dubai, and Puerto Banus which will total over 100 free-standing Tom Ford retail stores worldwide over the next 10 years. We have also just opened a shop this spring in Zurich, with shops in Daslu, Bergdorf’s, Harry Rosen, Lane Crawford Hong Kong and Neiman Marcus to follow in September.


Is retail design more significant now than it was 10 years ago?

Retail design has always been significant in helping to define a brand and has become more important than ever as the entire luxury industry has become more homogenised. More than ever, the brand experience is, in part, determined by the retail space.


You’ve turned your hand to fashion, accessories, beauty and fragrance. Have you any plans to branch into homeware?

For the moment, we are focusing on the existing categories and have no plans to branch into homeware.


What single thing would improve the quality of your life?

More time.


Describe Tom Ford in three words.

Loyal, shy, perfectionist.



Posted in Uncategorized on June 10, 2008 by moderngatsby

Tom Ford: In Therapy

… I’m Toad, of Toad Hall.

Posted in coccooning on June 10, 2008 by moderngatsby

Instead of the usual benign reading that is mandatory for business management undergraduates I would, if given the opportunity, propose the biography of Rupert Murdoch by William Shawcross as a necessity. I first read it many, many years ago as I’ve always admired the man but it wasn’t until my recent foray into publishing did some of it become relevant. The set-back of a certain financial turnaround and recovery plan also made it more personal too. Just as NewsCorp teetered in 1991 like a cartoon character on the precipice of the abyss, a company that I was a shareholder of slowly disintegrated similarly last year.

From the outset it should be noted that the convolution of bad-luck all seemed to hit at once which crippled an already unstable but profitable company. It’s amazing what a client’s default of R7, 8-million rand can do to a company’s cash-flow! And while I shouldn’t compare skilled and semi-skilled workers to rats – the analogy seems appropriate – because as the ship hit choppy waters they all bailed overboard and looked for other jobs elsewhere. A company that is built on these kinds of men finds it hard to meet project deadlines and so spirals further downwards. By the time I was roped in to help sort out the problem, amputation was inevitable.

Topping this was my ending of a relationship. And so after assessing what little assets I had left, not forgetting my dignity, I realised I would have to change my lifestyle. So here I was, a 30-yrs old single gay man with no financial security but many life experiences behind me. Did that mean nothing? After all, heartbreaks and break-ups are the hardest kind of worth so shouldn’t there be some credit for enduring them? And if not, how do you retain a sense of value when you have nothing concrete to show for it? Because at the end of yet another failed relationship – when all you have are war wounds and self-doubt you have to wonder – what’s it all worth?

As pessimistic as that may sound, and I have been accused of that a few times in the past few months by friends long since forgotten, it seems appropriate at this moment. With no other desire than to connect on a personal level my only contact with the outside world is professional. And while that is at least something, the words that I wish I could say out loud are drowned in the silent screams of everything not being spoken. I am clinched by my own failure as the mirage of success shimmers in a fragile moonlight. I look at the past and wonder how in moving full circle I didn’t learn the things that seemed so important the last time around.

The coming two weeks are literally going to be a make or break situation for me both professionally and privately. To not admit that the fear of failure inside almost cripples me would seem a little too cavalier but the fear of not at least going out there and trying to recover seems almost as terrifying. I guess that the same could be said for love and relationships. We tend not to want to go out there and fall in love because we’re afraid of getting hurt. So instead we fill our lives up with things that don’t seem important at the time but really are. Because in life sometimes you win or lose the cards dealt out – but you will always have a handful of friends on which you can count.

And that’s got to be worth something right?

… principles of lust.

Posted in coccooning, Passion on June 6, 2008 by moderngatsby

 As I sat at the kitchen table, shrouded in a cable-knit cashmere blanket, the silence of the croft cottage was unsettling and yet comforting at the same time. Outside I could see the uncut grass in the field as it swayed and bowed waist high to some unseen wind while in the distance, under the grey clouds that hung menacingly, the semi-naked trees held firm their autumn foliage. A pot of Rooibos tea with ginger stands on the granite counter, the steaming aroma pungent and inviting but untouched. The piece of toast, only moments ago glossy with butter had already congealed while waiting to be eaten.


Depending on whom you asked, tomorrows match was either the most important game of the calendar, or the least, but as we were both old boys of our respective schools. The Bradley Cooper-esq guy suggested we brave the weather and travel down to the country, if not to support our schools, then at least to spend some time together. Which was odd because we had been spending an increasing amount of time together already – late afternoons and early nights filled with the unspoken understanding while he, enraptured with rare breed Tarquin’s and I, a foundling publishing empire.


And then, a knock on the back-door broke the deep thought/spell that had overtaken me. Unashamedly cheery so early in the morning, he stood there with a clutch of the morning papers, a litre of fresh milk from the dairy, 6-eggs and a small almond-shaped loaf of bread. ‘Thought you might like a little breakfast’ the estate manager said in that Boland bray that I so loved. The last time I was here I was invited to a local farmers’ party by he and his wife, I forgot myself to the music, numbing alcohol and the welcoming embrace lust brings in the cold of the early morning with a son of ‘martizburg college. Unfulfilled, I left satisfied in the morning.


But now in a few hours we both had to be up and ready for lunch with the new headmaster of my old school. Accepted at the last minute, the offer to bring someone along was implied. And so, implicating the naked man still asleep in my bed, it was to be my first truth in 13years since leaving these Cape-Dutch walls. But after I left lunch, I took a wrong turn and found myself right back where it had all started. I had come to the midlands for a mini-break hoping to get away from lawyers and old-friends and most of all myself. But sitting on the fake set in the theatre my issues felt more real than ever. I couldn’t help but wonder no matter how far you travel or how much you run from it can you ever really escape your past?


Back at the farm, with the Bradley Cooper-esq guy out for a guided walk with the Boland caretaker, and with nothing to do I cleared out some old closets, no pun intended, and found a forgotten packing box filled with VHS tapes, cassette tapes and other souvenirs of holidays past. With a goose roasting in the oven, I broke a family tradition and started cocktail hour an hour early. With a slosh of whisky in a glass, a fire already prepared in the grate I had nothing but time to wait. As ashamed as I am to admit it, I let the moment wash over me and imagine what it would be like having someone permanent in my life to share moments like this with.


Eventually after the dishes were done, left over goose wrapped in cellophane along with the vegetables for the farm dogs in the morning we settled down with our bread and butter puddings and custard to watch one of the VHS tapes rediscovered that afternoon. As Kirsten Dunst and Huntley Ritter filled the screen with clever puns and cartwheels and dance choreography I realised that this evening was our first real night together. And as we snuggled up in bed, we talked about things honestly. It was he that reminded me that the past dictates the future. But he who masters the present controls the past.


And with that, as my racing heart started to calm, I nestled closer feeling his warm, still moist naked skin against mine under the down cover, closed my eyes and in the distance heard a dog bark and it seemed like home. This might not be real in the daylight, but for tonight, it felt as close as my heart would allow.

… what’s the difference between cynical and cyanide?

Posted in Self-Truth on June 6, 2008 by moderngatsby

As I heard the barbs flying from my mouth, I felt like I was standing on the curb watching an accident happening in slow-motion: even with the blood and gore and tragedy you couldn’t tear yourself away from the spectacle. I guess it was my fault entirely as against my better judgement I had agreed to go to a drinks/house warming party for distant mutual friends of the Bradley Cooper-esq guy and I. I have to give Facebook credit as a wonderful research tool that not only tells you the degrees of separation of the party guests, but also with whom you were once inseparable with.


Typically of any newly renovated house in Parkhurst there is neither sufficient parking nor taste for a running block. Having envied this particular couple many years ago for what seemed the perfect relationship the reality learnt through infidelity had taught me theirs was a financial arrangement more convenient than conviction. And since my last flirtation with dating had ended because of a similar dependence between him and his ex over a guest house in Melville, a tough two weeks boiled to the surface and the scales on my back rattled portentously.


To take the edge off, the Bradley Cooper-esq guy in divine foresight had made reservations at a certain pale-pink hotel perched on the Westcliff ridge of Jo’burg for post-sundowners and a light snack. As always the impeccable service and sophisticated company worked its magic. At that moment I was overwhelmed with the desire to take the man by the hand, book into my favourite suite and spend the rest of the evening rediscovering every inch of his muscled body again. And then, the spell was broken with the ringing of his phone.


Three vodka-martinis later, the two hours had come to seem like an eternity, when the one person that I had irrevocably given my heart to walked over and introduced me to the new owner of his. When metaphors collide and you are forced not only to look down at someone both literally and figuratively, the million questions asked in the darkness of the midnight hour when you are so emotionally raw, escape you. For a brief instant my throat felt like it was on fire and before I realised it the words that I had swallowed to keep the peace had become vomit rising up.


With only seconds to spare I reached the bathroom. Wracked with consuming nausea, the gut-wrenching heaves of vomiting became my reality and the expensive bespoke suit, measurable weight loss over the past few weeks and professional success meant nothing. Embarrassment more than anything kept me from going back to the party. I could have made a joke of it, parlayed an excuse or just ignored it but something gnawed at the back of my mind. A fear so sobering that it could stun a herd of oxen in their tracks. Would I ever find someone to share my life with or would I have to someday just fake it?


While women, and some gay men, are certainly no strangers to faking it they’ve faked their hair colour, cup size and hell they’ve even faked fur I couldn’t help but wonder has fear of being alone suddenly raised the bar on faking? Are we faking more than just orgasms? Are we faking entire relationships? As I sat there thinking about the man that I had once adored and his little pot-bellied prematurely-bald and shallow-as-a-puddle of-spit boyfriend, I couldn’t help but wonder: is it better to ‘fake it’ than be alone?


The Bradley Cooper-esq guy totally understood my wanting to leave. As we said our goodbyes and headed out the front door into a surprisingly warm evening the last thing I wanted to do was go home. As I manoeuvred my MINI out of the impossibly tight parking and pointed it in the general direction of Rosebank, he said the most puzzling thing to me. ‘… is he the reason you don’t trust me?’ his deep, mellow voice spoke in the darkness. I wanted to answer yes but the truth is that I didn’t trust myself very much either.


It’s easy to blame other people for your own insecurities. It’s even easier when you can focus them all onto a face of someone you wanted to believe loved you even though the voice in your head told you not to.  And although the promise of love sits just out of reach at the moment, not every building remembers the names of lovers past. The lights may go out the same and the only difference is the lovers calling out different names but everyone has a lover after him. You just don’t think about those you left behind as you moved on to another happiness with someone else.


I’m getting better at being alone. I’m still battling the feelings of loneliness though.