Tom Ford’s collections for Gucci are the stuff of fashion legend. As creative director of the house from 1994 until 2004, he championed all-out sexiness, putting risqué silhouettes and suggestive fabrics centre stage. His catwalks were awash with cut-outs and cleverly-placed metal hardware, along with silky shirts unbuttoned almost to the navel (free the nipple, said Ford!), and suiting in sumptuous velvets that begged to be touched.
The ’90s and noughties fashion revival has brought the American designer’s Gucci collections back into the spotlight, with vintage sellers and collectors alike clamoring for Ford’s pieces. Alexis Novak, founder of Tab Vintage, describes Ford’s Gucci vision as “the perfect blend of chic and sexy. He really knew how to deliver simple looks that pack a punch and clearly stand the test of time.”
According to fashion researcher and internet sensation Kim Russell, who’s known on Instagram as @TheKimbino, “an era like Tom’s at Gucci will always be relevant because it really set the bar for everyone in fashion. Then and now.” To anyone considering investing, Neil Leonard of Lab2022, an Instagram account dedicated to archive Gucci and YSL, says simply: “Buy only what you love! If you don’t have a real passion for a collection or the piece then why invest your time and money?”
As the fashion world waits to see what Gucci’s newly appointed creative director Sabato de Sarno has in store, six experts share their insights on how to source Gucci by Tom Ford treasures, and the key collections to look out for.
Kim Russell (@TheKimbino), fashion researcher
My favorite collection is spring 1999—it’s one of those really fun and sexy yet effortless collections that I never get tired of researching. A lot of my favourite celebrities were spotted wearing it in ’99, and more recently it has been worn by Rihanna.
Stay vigilant, because the pieces that are well-maintained and reasonably priced will go within minutes. That being said, there are absolutely no reasonably priced pieces out there at the moment. I think it’ll take a while for the craze to die down but when it’s dormant, that would be a great time to start looking.
What to bookmark:
Some people really love investing in those G-strings or accessories, and some collect clothing from the ready-to-wear collections – I lean towards the latter.
Justin Friedman (@TomFordForGucci), director of sales at a luxury fashion retailer
The collection I somehow always end up coming back to is spring 1997. The head-to-toe look envisioned by Tom [Ford] and Carine Roitfeld—the meanest, sharpest tailoring, the skinniest pants slashed open at the foot to show off stilettos that were cuffed to the ankle, the slinkiest silk or velvet slip dresses barely held onto the body by a chain strap, the GG G-string… all worn by gorgeous, sweaty, smoky-eyed models who looked like they’d lived faster in one night than you could in your entire life. It’s always seemed to me to be less about looking sexy, and more about looking sexual.
Leave your sticker shock behind. When I first started browsing resale sites for pieces from Tom Ford’s Gucci, the selection was enormous and the prices weren’t terrifying. Cut to now and the prices have gone wild, thanks in part to some of the most famous women in the world wearing pieces from those collections – not to mention some know-it-all blogger who started obsessively documenting them on Instagram.
I think you also need to know what you want the piece or pieces for. Unless you’re building an archive or totally wardrobing yourself, skip the commercial spin-offs and showroom pieces and go straight for the runway/ad campaign stuff. Also, know your seasons! I’ve seen so many pieces from after Tom’s tenure being marketed as Tom Ford for Gucci on resale sites. And don’t hesitate. If you love it, buy it. Seriously, I’m still recovering from a spring 2000 ruched leather bomber jacket that I “needed to think about”.
What to bookmark:
I’m really feeling some of the handbags these days. Those incredible flap bags with the oversized horsebit from fall 2003 and spring 2004, or the velvet and crocodile numbers with the jeweled dragon clasps from fall 2004 are really calling to me. They look totally different from what’s on the market right now, so they’re bound to turn heads, and unlike some of of the really iconic ready to wear, the bags are easy to work into your own look. Even some of the less publicised Gucci bags from that era are pretty fabulous. Plus, they’re yet to have a major comeback moment like the Baguette or the Saddle bag, but they really deserve one!
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