In Character: Alien

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Spring Breakers isn’t really about role models—fashion or otherwise. And while we’re not exactly advocating for ripping off James Franco’s rapper-slash-dealer look in its entirety, you’ve gotta give the man props for really *going for it*. Here’s how it’s done. —erica

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The sort of beachy Gitman Vintage shirt that goes damn well with the yard-drink environs.image

A Human Potential hat, to add to the number of chains he can wear on his person.

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Tom Ford shield sunglasses that make him look real ‘spicious.

Get more “In Character” madness over here.

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Where They Were Then: Tom Ford

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Tom Ford has helmed the sort of labels people sing about. See: Kreayshawn’s “Gucci Gucci” and the dozens of rappers who’ve name-dropped YSL. But what’s made the man such a star for 20-plus years? Here, the road from a Texas suburb to a label that bears his name. —callia hargrove

1961 – Tom Ford, Jr. is born on August 27th to a a pair of realtors in Austin, Texas. Favorite childhood pastime? Re-arranging his parents’ furniture, Ty Pennington-style.

1975 – Tom and his mom Shirley relocate to Santa Fe when he’s 11. Early on, she teaches him that “being badly dressed is disrespectful to others.” Taking his self-presentation seriously, at 14 gives himself a cucumber eye-treatment…only to discover he’s allergic, resulting in a dramatic trip to the ER.

1979 – At the ripe old age of 16, Tom leaves home to attend Bard College at Simon’s Rock in Massachusetts. New England isn’t doing it for him, and he heads to NYU to study Art History. But that doesn’t really cut it either: He drops out and heads to Hollywood to become an actor. At one point, he has 12 TV commercials on the air at the same time.

1983 – After making some bank, Tom heads back to NYC to study architecture at Parsons. He balances studying with partying at the legendary Studio 54. The summer prior to his senior year, he interns at Chloé in Paris and is so inspired that he spends his last year studying fashion (but still matriculates with an Interior Architecture degree).

1985 – After graduation, Tom looks for his big fashion break, calling sportswear designer Cathy Hardwick every day for two months begging for an interview. It took a little BSing—so what that he graduated with an architecture degree and was just an intern at Chloé?—but he lands the job and works as her assistant for two years.

1986 – In a totally Romeo and Romeo tale, he meets Richard Buckley in the elevator at a fashion show. The two quickly become an item. Oh, P.S., Richard just so happens to be the fashion editor at WWD.

1988 – Tom heads to Perry Ellis, where one of his good friends from Studio 54, Marc Jacobs, is designing. He stays there for 2 years and then ditches the U.S. for Milan.

1990 – Gucci, in a dark period, is looking for someone to revamp its women’s ready-to-wear. Taking a major leap of faith, bigwig creative director Dawn Melo hires the virtually unknown Tom, who draws inspo from his Texan grandmas to bring a fresh spin to the dying brand.

1992 – Bam! Like a boss, Tom makes his mark—and starts doing more, more, MORE, designing menswear, creating fragrances, overseeing advertising, and even doing the interiors of all of Gucci’s stores. So, yes, that college education paid off.

1995 – Since Tom began his reign, sales at Gucci are up by 90%, and LVMH sees a huge opportunity. They acquire the house, and, by the end of 1999, the once-flailing brand is bringing in earnings of $4.3 billion.  

1997 – Oh, he’s as good-looking as he is talented? People names Tom one of its 50 most beautiful people and makes it official.

1999 – Gucci just isn’t enough for Tom, ever the over-achiever. Under his leadership, the Gucci group acquires Yves Saint Laurent (yes, back when we were allowed to use the “Yves”). Ultimate seal of approval: After his first show for YSL, Tom’s mom is heard demanding a discount on the collection. 

2001 – In his first bout with controversy, Tom creative-directs the ad campaign for Gucci’s new fragrance, Opium, starring redhead Sophie Dahl, who’s completely naked—well, you know, except for a necklace and sky-high stilettos. It’s banned in pretty much every country…but paves the way for other infamous Gucci ads. That same year, Tom nabs awards from the CFDA, GQ, and TIME mag.

2002 – Drama in the house. After the acquisition, Tom and the YSL team begin butting heads. Tom peaces out.

2003 – In the most shocking fashion announcement of the year, Tom reveals that he’s leaving the Gucci group. DVF, Valentino, Oscar de la Renta, Karl Lagerfeld, and Stella McCartney attend his final show for YSL. That’s some mad designer respect.

2005 – Striking out on his own, Tom Ford launches his eponymous label. His first project: a collabo with Estée Lauder to create his own cosmetics line. Ladies go nuts for his super-luxe (and, ok, insanely expensive) lipsticks.

2006 – Vanity Fair asks Tom to guest-edit its Hollywood issue. His cover concept: Keira Knightley, Scarlett Johansson, and Rachel McAdams nekkid. Rachel McAdams nixes the idea, and Tom replaces her with…himself.

2009 – Undergoing, as he puts it, the “ultimate design project” of his life, he co-writes and directs his debut film, A Single Man, earning Colin Firth an Oscar nomination and winning an Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay.

2010 – He MCs the presentation for his first Tom Ford women’s collection himself—and is overheard telling Queen Bey that she had definitely turned him straight.

2012 – This year is all about the leading men. Tom provides all of Daniel Craig’s costumes for the latest Bond, designs JT’s wardrobe for his “Suit & Tie” comeback, and welcomes a little bundle of joy named Alexander into his life.

2013 – A record number of U.S. buyers travel across the pond just to see T.F.’s first show in London Town—an indicator of just how major his influence on the fashion industry is.

Get more big-name backstory here!

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Gifted Program: Black and Gold FTW

What do we think you should gift this season? Something Of a Kind—I mean, OBVIOUSLY. If you’re looking to double-down on the special, we’ve conjured up some stellar present pairings—our “Gifted Program,” if you will—that we’ll be serving up over the next couple weeks. (And ok, fine, if this doesn’t satiate you, we have a slew of ideas up in our Pinterest, too.) —erica 

The pairing: Our classy-shassy black onyx Fortune Favors the Brave studs ($65) + Tom Ford’s crazy-luxe lipstick ($48), in a coordinating tube. (Double bonus points if you gift to a Drew Brees super-fan.)

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Elena Howell’s L.A. Mid-Century Tour

Her jewelry line and The Big Lebowski have more in common than you’d guess.

Before Elena Coleman Howell started making clean-lined jewelry under the name TOMTOM, she was all about creating buildings, working as an architect for the firm Marmol Radziner and Associates. “They were the architects famous for restoring such mid-century gems as Richard Neutra’s Kaufmann House in Palm Springs and another Neutra home in the Hollywood Hills belonging to this guy Tom Ford,” she notes. Her own affection for the mid-century look came from her hometown—and a movie you probably didn’t pay money to see. “Although I grew up in Los Angeles, the epicenter of mid-century modern architecture, my obsession with the style didn’t begin until 2001 when I saw the film The Anniversary Party. The movie is about actors playing actors, on ecstasy, with Jennifer Jason Leigh crying a lot,” the (straight-up hilarious) designer explains. “But what really captured my attention was this beautiful, light-filled home in the Hollywood Hills where all of the drama unfolded—a mid-century modern home by Neutra.” Here, the local places she suggests you hit up for inspiration and era-appropriate furnishings.


Sheats-Goldstein Residence

Check Out These Homes:
Schindler House and Eames House: “Most of the mid-century homes in L.A. are lived-in, making them impossible to tour. These two are open to the public and worth checking out.”
Sheats-Goldstein Residence: “In grad school, a few friends and I somehow finagled a private tour of John Lautner’s property, which has made appearances in such films as The Big Lebowski. This house is amazing. I try to make my jewelry look like it. If you can’t get a tour, this video is a close second.”


Dinnerware by Heath

Shop at These Spots:
Heath Ceramics: “My husband and I registered for their dishware for our wedding. I will never regret forgoing china for this.”
The Rose Bowl Flea Market: “The second Sunday of every month, score mid-century furniture gems on the cheap.”
Danish Modern: “It’s not inexpensive, but you can find gorgeously restored mid-century furnishings—and you don’t have to wake up early on a Sunday to get the best pieces.”

Make sure you don’t miss out on the architectural ring Elena created for Of a Kind.

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