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Designer Thomas Carlyle Ford was born on August 27, 1961, in Austin, Texas. The young Tom Ford discovered an early interest in art and painting. "I was always very visual, always interested in design," he recalls. "I don't want to say I started designing clothes at 5, but if my parents went out to dinner and left me alone, I would rearrange all the furniture in the living room before they came back. My parents always encouraged me to follow my aspirations."

In 1979, at the age of 17, he enrolled at New York University in art history. The future designer could be seen more often at the famous Studio 54 nightclub than in the university classroom. He dropped out of school and moved to Los Angeles in 1980, and earned his living by shooting commercials.

A few years later, he returned to New York and enrolled in architecture at the Parsons School of Design, then joined the Paris version of the school for his final year of study. It was in Paris that his interest in fashion first began. 

Tom Ford - the first designs

In 1985, Tom Ford made his debut with the prestigious sportswear brand Cathy Hardwick. He started as a creative assistant. He landed a job designing jeans for Perry Ellis on Seventh Avenue in New York two years later. In 1990, he moved to Milan to take charge of women's wear for Gucci. The company was plagued by management struggles and a mismatch of collections with market trends. Tom Ford instantly gave Gucci a new lease on life. He quickly moved up the corporate ladder, from design director in 1992 to creative director in 1994.

Tom Ford - Star at Gucci

Tom Ford has completely overhauled Gucci's image.  His style appealed to stars such as Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow. He expanded the company to include new lines.  Men's fashion, women's sportswear, evening wear and home furnishings and decor. Under his leadership, Gucci took over the Yves Saint Laurent brand, bringing remarkable sales growth.

In 2005, Tom Ford founded his own fashion company and launched menswear, eyewear, beauty products and fragrances.  In 2009, Tom Ford made a foray into cinema with his first film, A Single Man, starring Colin Firth and Julianne Moore. He co-wrote and directed the film, based on the novel by Christopher Isherwood. A Single Man was critically acclaimed, earning an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor and an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best First Screenplay.

One of the most decorated designers of his generation, Ford won numerous fashion awards for his work with Gucci and his eponymous brand.