The Empire of Tom - Beauty Addict

Monday, November 07, 2005

The Empire of Tom

Tom hot right nowWhen Tom Ford left Gucci in 2004, I eagerly awaited his next move, guessing at what it would be and when he'd reappear. I could just imagine him, installed in some palatial penthouse apartment, plotting his return to the world of chic. My best guess was that he would start his own wildly successful fashion house. But now, a year later, the man who single-handedly resurrected Gucci and YSL has Estee Lauder?

His first collection, Amber Nude, which includes a retooled Youth Dew fragrance and some limited edition cosmetics, premiered this week amid much fanfare. Now it's rumored that he's building something new and interesting, most likely a makeup collection, around the 1960s EL fragrance Azuree (check out Bois de Jasmin for the scoop).

I must admit that I am mystified. Estee Lauder is a brand I've always associated with my mother; classic, stable, aspirational but still accessible. And believe me, making the jump from my mother to Estee Lauder to Tom Ford was no easy feat. My brain just couldn't process it, considering that this is the man who once shaved a model's pubic hair into a "G" for Gucci, and had Sophie Dahl reclining completely naked in an ad for Opium (I remember the debate in all the major magazines over whether or not her nipple should be airbrushed out).

I have a very vivid mental picture of what Tom's initial strategy meetings at EL must have been like:

TF: "Ok, I see Gwyneth, painted completely gold, looking messy and sexy, sprawled out in a pool of live honeybees. So hot!"

EL exec: ...silence...

TF: "How about Carolyn Murphy in an inner tube, in the crater of a live volcano, surrounded by circling vampire bats?"

EL exec: ...silence...

TF: "I'm seeing a new makeup collection, it's all about the tribal look...we need real pygmies and sacrificial animals for the ad campaign"

EL exec: ...silence...

TF: "How about I retool Youth Dew?"

EL exec: "Now we're getting somewhere!"

It'll be very interesting to see how Tom's career at EL plays out. Did they bring him in just to reach out to an edgier customer segment, in addition to the brand's loyal base? Or, is the whole brand planning to move toward a more modern, innovative image? Oh, to be a fly on the wall in their marketing meetings!

Only time will tell. For now, I'm off to sample Amber Nude. Apparently I have no choice in the matter; for as the description for the collection states, my "skin and senses are under the influence of Tom Ford." Like him or not, it's difficult these days to escape the Empire of Tom.