Tom Ford’s Autumn-Winter 2020 show was the talk of Tinsel Town this season as the prolific Creative Director showcased his glamourous new collection in the City of Angels this weekend. The move came as a big surprise to the industry-at-large as Ford, who was recently appointed as the Chairman of the CFDA last year, opted to forgo New York Fashion Week to capitalise on the Oscars’ buzz by unveiling the latest Tom Ford collection to a celeb-studded audience in Los Angeles instead.
The controversial move stirred up a lot of discussion regarding the underlying message around Ford’s decision to show outside of New York Fashion Week at a time when the fashion capital's fashion week enterprise is struggling to retain big brands within its schedule. Last season, Ford inaugurated a new vision of NYFW, one that worked to make the event more attractive and accessible to international editors, influencers and buyers to elevate the exposure offered to participating brands. Ford boldly shortened the duration of the Big Apple’s seasonal fashion event to accommodate the hectic schedules of foreign press and buyers and worked with leading American labels to subsidise and sponsor flights resulting in a remarkable influx of notable international industry players that had not been seen at NYFW in the recent past.
Bella Hadid walks the runway for Tom Ford Autumn-Winter 2020 in Los Angeles
This season, the strategy seems to have shifted yet again, with brands such as Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger disappearing from the schedule along with Tom Ford who opted to harness the power of the Oscars to elevate the visibility around his latest collection. People accused the Chairman of deserting the CFDA to pursue the interests of his own brand rather than those of the NYFW franchise but Tom Ford addressed the criticism head on, highlighting that he had the interests of the industry at heart. In a statement released to the Business of Fashion, Ford said, “Someone asked me the other day how I could justify showing in LA as I am now the Charman of the CFDA, and I reminded them that CFDA stood for the Council of Fashion Designers of American and not the Council of Fashion Designers of New York.”
The statement clarified Ford’s position on his role within the CFDA and further highlighted what could potentially be the definitive dictum for the American fashion industry moving forward: think outside the box and do what is best for your brand. Although at first glance the approach may seem like a slight cop-out from assuming responsibility, upon closer inspection, the move seems to be a natural progression from the “anything goes” tactic that Ford employed across NYFW last season; scrapping traditionalism for a more innovative mindset for a brand new fashion week experience. Given Ford’s natural knack for showmanship and commercialism, it should come as little surprise that the CFDA Chairman took it upon himself to demonstrate what could work at a time when economic burdens are casting a dark shadow upon the industry.
The star-studded front row at Tom Ford's Autumn-Winter 2020 show
What this means for New York Fashion Week is still unclear and we are left worndering whether this might catalyse more designers to showcase their collections in Los Angeles rather than New York. Afterall, if dwindling industry budgets mean that we can expect fewer international media and tastemakers to be able to fly to New York, wouldn't star-studded Los Angeles effectively offer brands a better return on investment by allowing for more visibility by harnessing the potential of star-power? I guess we will just have to wait and see; our eyes remain fixated on Mr. Ford.