Image Tom Ford

There are few ensembles from fashion’s great mix-and-match that say “I wear the clothes, the clothes don’t wear me” more than a pair of teeny tiny hot pants paired with a big winter jacket. It’s business only for those ballsy enough. It’s the kind of sexy that swiftly dumps a year’s relationship with sweatpants to live out its truth with a black lace body-stocking. Or it’s a double-breasted black blazer that needs nothing but a high heel and a heavy eye to preach that practicality-be-damned. It’s a Tom Ford type of hot.

But Fall 2021 hasn’t been all “badass”-ery for Tom Ford. Despite his show notes linking this devil-may-care term to his collection, COVID locked the gates of limitation around him (his studio is in London, while he’s based in Los Angeles, for example) and in the weeks prior his scheduled show date, an outbreak of the virus within his team meant pushing it back at least twice.

One can only imagine the pressure behind the scenes. Fortunately however, in the new ambiguous fashion calendar, a lack of physical shows means greater flexibility around timing.

Image Tom Ford

Ford’s presentation comes via a studio-shot lookbook. At a glance, it’s exactly what the Tom Ford customer hopes to see upon entering his store (virtual or not) – svelte, sexy separates with a finger on the cool-kid pulse. Actually, Ford’s knack for such schmick trend might mean his literal pulse is the figurative one the contemporary upmarket-market vies for.

The artistic direction conjures a 60s-era London. With silhouettes and beauty nods to Edie Sedgwick, in particular. It’s a kind of brutal, sassy take on Mod – an era of youth rebellion – with Ford merging our current prohibition to its punk legacy. The result is an unapologetic rapid fire of pieces that uniforms sexy feature items (netty-sheer gathered blouses, embroidered negligee dresses) with casual-play basics (tie-dye denim jeans, oversized hoody-dresses).

The Sedgewick-isms come via micro-hems and go-go dresses, candelabra earrings with turtlenecks and miniskirts and statement jackets paired with little else. Despite the era-play, the look has become evergreen. Perhaps it’s the just-left-the-club nostalgia, or the life-more-interesting discourse that remains forever fascinating (and appropriate for the nowadays). Ford’s collection refreshes the costumery of it, though. The tactility of velvets and shearlings and even the lace stretch pants notch it up to his level of usual decadence with a little added utility.

The palette stays close to Tom Ford shades of dark, with just a few potent fuchsias, violets, blues and tangerines to take his ra-ra dresses to A-grade levels of hot. The outerwear is particularly memorable. Heavy fluffy hoodies, gathered leather bombers and one sensational oversized velvet duvet coat that is the kind of investment piece made to sell like hot cakes – even if it’s not actually worn with hot pants. There’s also his brand-emblazoned smalls that come in the form of loungey skirts and triangle crops, all which will undoubtably become as collectible as the bright satin pumps that seem to polish off every slim-cut, leggy look he offers. (It must be mentioned that the models featured are not varied in terms of body size).

Ford has said he’s spent a majority of his lockdown time in jeans. And, for someone we’re used to seeing a three-piece, this is a timely reminder that no one has avoided the impact of the pandemic – not even the patron saint of the velvet tuxedo. But his Fall 2021 is defying the casual suspects to craft a look we can get excited about. “The slight deconstruction of luxurious pieces is something that I feel will be a legacy of the pandemic” he said in his show notes.

If such an ordeal can leave a fashion stamp worthy of remembering then maybe we’ll see it honoured and reminisced in the future. Perhaps Fall 2080 will be an ode to pandemic couture of the 2020’s. In a good way.

It’s all about looking back while moving forward…or Ford, should we say?