Saturday, July 10, 2010

A breast man: Tom Ford on "becoming post-human" and "hard" beauty

steven klein for w/tfs

On Tuesday, Tom Ford’s directorial debut, A Single Man, was released on DVD. Although critically-acclaimed, the film made just US$9million at the domestic box office – and, seemed virtually impossible to find on download at the time of release, due to an apparent lack of geek interest. Miramax hopes it will now find its audience. To celebrate the DVD launch, yesterday NPR radio re-broadcast an interview Ford did with NPR’s Fresh Air host Terry Gross back on December 14 last year. Perhaps the original became subsumed by the deluge of publicity Ford did at the time of the film's theatrical release, because this iv does not appear to have travelled far afield. Below is an MP3 of the full 20 minute interview.

In Ford's own words:
* His critical fashion eye first manifested itself at age seven/eight when he started noticing his shoes were "the wrong shape".

* His earliest Gucci collections in 1995 and 1996 were the most influential, but his last few collections for Gucci and for Yves Saint Laurent, from 2003-2004, were more interesting, thanks in large part to his exposure to the ateliers at Gucci and YSL. “I had learned at that point how to make more complex clothes, both cerebrally as well as technically”

On the 1970s ambiance of the velvet hiphuggers etc in his breakthrough 1995 Gucci collection vs contemporary fashion:

“They were a throwback to a period in the 1970s when fashion was more touchable. Today, you know, fashion is not - our beauty standard today is harder. It's beautiful but it's off-putting. It's like, don't touch me, I'm hard”.
On beautiful women and ageing:

“If you're a beautiful woman, you're incredibly powerful within our culture. The world operates differently for you. Then, at a moment in time, and it has nothing to do with you, it's like the carpet is just ripped out from under you, and the way that you've operated in the world no longer works. So Julianne's character is struggling”.

Ford also spends quite some time discussing women’s breasts:

“Cars look like someone took an air pump and pumped them up. They look engorged. Lips pumped up, breasts pumped up, everything is pumped up. And it's also kind of off-putting. It's sexual but in such a hard way that it's, for me, not sexual at all, whereas the 1970s, breasts were smaller. People were not wearing bras. Farrah Fawcett's sexuality and sensuality was a very touchable sexuality. She was kissable. She was friendly. I don't understand all these breasts right now, and they don't look like breasts. They look like someone's taken a grapefruit half and inserted it under your skin. I mean it's - it doesn't even bear any resemblance to what a natural breast looks like. But we're starting to think that this is what women should like. And young girls are looking at these breasts and thinking, oh, I need to go have my breasts done because they've lost touch with what a real breast actually looks like. I find it fascinating. I find it disturbing. I mean, you could consider it more fascinating because we're becoming post-human”.

Judging by this interview with Ford, conducted by GQ magazine earlier this year - in which Ford volunteers “I could really improve breast implants” - he spent quite some time on A Single Man’s promo trail talking breasts. Which is interesting, because there are none in the film. Instead, lots of long, lingering, homoerotic slow-mos of semi-clad and naked men, as you might expect from a gay male love story (and indeed, much contemporary fashion imagery).

Of course, Ford is entitled to an opinion about breasts. But given criticism that Miramax deliberately “de-gayed” the marketing of A Single Man, by playing up the (strictly platonic) relationship between Colin Firth’s and Julianne Moore’s characters in the trailer and posters to give the film more mainstream appeal – with even the film's lead actor Colin Firth weighing into the brouhaha, calling it "deceptive" – a cynic might well ask if there was a deliberate strategy on Ford's part to pump up the breast talk and play down the cock?

Here's the trailer for anyone who missed it:

It’s not like Ford has never deliberately marketed to straight men before.

The following ads lensed by Terry ‘King of sleaze’ Richardson for the Tom Ford for Men fragrance campaign hardly seem to be pitching to the gays (although one other shot in the campaign, of the same bottle nestled in a man's buttocks, did).

Curiously, when it came to flogging his men's perfume, Ford appeared to overcome his personal distaste for the “post-human” breast shape which he believes looks “like someone's taken a grapefruit half and inserted it under your skin” and hired a model with the fruitiest boobs he could find.

 terry richardson for tom ford/narcissus


Anonymous said...

Patty, your commentary and analysis is phwoar.

Please do these posts more often. They are so insightful.

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