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Review: Tom Ford gets in an L.A. mood for fall and winter 2020

Tom Ford fall and winter 2020 runway collection
Looks from the Tom Ford fall and winter 2020 runway collection presented at Milk Studios in Hollywood on Friday.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

It turns out that the subway-station-to-nowhere venue and exercise in obtainable glamour that made Tom Ford’s spring and summer 2020 runway show at New York Fashion Week so memorable were headed somewhere after all. That would be Los Angeles.

The fashion designer-film director presented his fall and winter women’s and men’s runway collection at Milk Studios in Hollywood Friday night, kicking off Oscar weekend with one of his best collections in recent memory, presented in front of an impressively eclectic celeb-heavy crowd that included everyone from A-Rod to Renee Zellweger. (More on the super-starry front row down below.)

In the fashion industry press, much ink has been spilled and pixels slung over the fact that Ford, who was elected the chairman of the Council of Fashion Designers of America less than a year ago, had chosen to stage his runway show here in the run-up to the Oscars (as he did in February 2015), while New York Fashion Week was under way on the opposite coast.

Tom Ford fall and winter 2020
Looks from the Tom Ford fall and winter 2020 runway collection presented at Milk Studios in Hollywood.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
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But, after Friday night, it’s easy to see why Ford wanted to present this particular collection in L.A. because it’s full of the particular sort of practical glamour that can be seen everywhere in the City of Angels — from the order line at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf to the limo line at the Academy Awards.

And there was also an inspirational connection.

Tom Ford fall and winter 2020
A look from the Tom Ford fall and winter 2020 runway collection.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

In his post-show notes, Ford referenced a 1966 Bob Richardson photo of Baron Alexis De Waldner and Donna Mitchell taken for French Vogue.

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“Alexis is a holding a cigarette [or a joint] up to Donna’s mouth, and her eyes are closed in a relaxed and sensual way,” Ford wrote. “I love this image and its slightly louche mood. Chic, possibly slightly stoned, and very sensual. Bob lived in L.A. for part of this period of his life, and while I’m not sure where the image was actually taken, for me, it conveys the mood of the season and a mood that for me is very L.A.”

Tom Ford fall and winter 2020
Looks from the Tom Ford fall and winter 2020 runway collection.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

That mood manifested itself on the runway in a collection filled with laid-back luxe. Silhouettes were relaxed with high-waisted, wide-legged trousers. Tops ranged from roomy and diaphanous to cropped and curve-hugging, and jackets bordered on the voluminous.

Easy-wearing denim skirts and drawstring trousers in patchworked denim and billowy tie-dyed tops and caftan capes — the standout in sunshine orange — gave some looks a dash of ‘70s hippie chic.

Experience standout Oscar dresses from the last five decades, including Farrah Fawcett’s disco dress and Billy Porter’s tuxedo gown, in augmented reality.

Other pieces mined utilitarian military motifs (olive drab hues; skirts that looked like they’d been crafted from parachute silk; and cargo pants and skirts that looked pieced together from well-worn khaki uniforms among them). And there was even a Tom Ford take on athleisure in the mix; drawstring sweatpants (in a range of fabrications including a dressy Prince of Wales plaid) and sleeveless gray sweatshirts with ragged hems that wouldn’t look out of place at the gym.

Tom Ford fall and winter 2020
The Tom Ford fall and winter 2020 runway collection included the designer’s take on athleisure.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Standouts in the accessories department included shoes with chunky hourglass-curve heels, teacup-saucer-sized feather earrings that looked like they’d been dipped in gold, and blinged-out socks with the initials “TF” spelled out in glittery crystals.

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However, Ford’s strong suit has always been opulence, and there were plenty of options on the runway for Angelenos who might find themselves descending from the wooded canyons and heading off on a movie-opening press tour. Key pieces here included strong-shouldered, peak-lapel jackets in rich purple velvet (paired with matching skirts and layered over knit turtlenecks) and sequinned or fringed skirts that bounced and swayed and caught the light with every footfall.

Tom Ford fall and winter 2020
One of the men’s looks from the Tom Ford fall and winter 2020 runway collection.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Animal prints also made an appearance throughout the collection (a black-and-white zebra patterned peak lapel dinner jacket for him, floor-length, leopard-print trench coats for her) as did a bouquet of florals that bloomed across skirts, brocade jackets, drawstring pants and a range of delicate skin-baring lace pieces that included black floral lace skirts and dresses with dramatic diagonal slashes.

Tom Ford fall and winter 2020
Designer, director and CFDA Chairman Tom Ford at the finale of his fall and winter 2020 runway show in Hollywood.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Although Ford may have departed from one tradition by presenting his collection here during New York Fashion Week, he closed the show by embracing another.

“[P]erhaps I am feeling particularly romantic this season,” he wrote in the show notes, “as for the first time, I am ending a show with a bride. Fresh and hopeful. And hope is something I think that we all need right now.” (We couldn’t agree more.)

Tom Ford fall and winter 2020
This season, for the first time, Tom Ford included a bridal look in his runway collection.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

The show-closing bride wore white all right — as in a white, floral lace one-shouldered dress as delicate as a doily, that hugged the curves and tugged on every set of eyeballs in the building.

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The bridal offering was one of a handful of looks that smoldered like a tire fire. Another was a clingy black lace dress that left little to the imagination, and perhaps the night’s most memorable look was a shoulder-baring (and just about everything-else-baring) silvery chainmail dress accented with two black bows — one at the neck and another at the navel.

Tom Ford fall and winter 2020
One of the most memorable looks of the Tom Ford fall and winter 2020 runway collection was a chainmail dress with two black bows.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

We’re not usually ones to marvel at a star-filled fashion-show front row, but the famous folk lining the runway Friday night made it feel like the Emmys, Grammys, Golden Globes and Oscars all rolled into one.

Among the attendees spotted in the crowd were (in no particular order) James Corden, Jason Momoa (who told us he was attending his first-ever fashion show), Lisa Bonet, Odell Beckham Jr., Jennifer Lopez, Alex Rodriguez, Jeff Bezos (parked next to Anna Wintour), Rob Lowe (sitting beside Demi Moore), Tracee Ellis Ross, Jon Hamm, Kate Hudson, Miley Cyrus, Lil Nas X, George Hamilton (George Hamilton, ladies and gentlemen!), Dr. Dre, Kris Jenner, Renee Zellweger, Ciara, Russell Wilson, Gina Gershon, Jason Statham, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Brian Grazer, Ron Howard and Catherine O’Hara.

Tom Ford fall and winter 2020
Actress Catherine O’Hara cited the turtleneck and sequinned skirt ensembles on the Tom Ford fall and winter 2020 runway as her favorite.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

We caught up with O’Hara on the way out of the show and, because she was featured on the cover of last September’s Emmy week Image section, we couldn’t help but ask if she’d found particular favor with any of the runway looks.

“The sequinned skirts [paired] with the turtlenecks were just lovely,” she told us, before adding something that seemed to perfectly sum up the entire run of show.

“It was so beautiful,” she said. “I just wanted the whole thing to stay open as a club afterward.”


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