Tom Ford Spring 2012: What the Critics Think

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Photo: Getty Images
Tom Ford's spring collection has many critics.

Fashion folks love to love Tom Ford, who’s unquestionably talented and influential (not to mention handsome and charming)—but his Spring 2012 collection has been met with mixed reviews.

FashionEtc rounded up what the style set had to say, which runs the the spectrum from phenomenal to falling flat.

The latest from the latter camp comes from Le Figaro’s Virginie Mouzat, who had strong words for the designer’s recent womenswear collection, which she called “inventory suited to Kim Kardashian.”

“From the first model on the runway, we are struck by what resembles an out-of-style Gucci collection from ten years ago,” she wrote. (Her column has been translated from French by The Cut.)

“The fussy complications of the cuts (drawstrings, shirring, high-waisted skirts, leg-of-lamb sleeves), the disheveled hairstyle of a girl barely back from happy hour, and the overdone makeup... Overload is the key word of the show... The laced shoe? An ersatz model of an Alaia. The jogging shorts in black leather? Already seen last year in Celine's cruise collection, as were the sandals with bracelet straps (here, encrusted with rhinestones). The coat bristling with raffia? A pale version of those in Yves Saint Laurent's spring 1967 collection.”

Jess Cartner-Morley of the Guardian had similar criticism. “Despite the beautiful tailoring and the immaculate execution it fell a little flat,” she wrote. “It felt too self-referential. Too many frills and too few new ideas. There were gorgeous, curvy, super vamp dresses that I loved, but the flouncy peasant blouses and corset belts seemed like a Guilty Pleasures version of Tom Ford.”

The Telegraph’s Lisa Armstrong straddled the line, acknowledging Ford's tendency toward that which put him on the map (read: sex), while pointing out that his attention to detail elevated the collection. “This is ground well covered in his days at Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent… But the lady vamping is a classic, which requires someone to champion it right now.”

“It could have all looked a bit much,” Armstrong noted. “In fact there were moments when you found all your taste certainties being pulverized. But that's not a bad thing. Ford is no minimalist (though who knew he had such a crush on purple?) and the heavy garnishing will go down well with all the stylists who were already mentally reserving what they'll shoot. Fashion needs its agitators.”

It wasn’t just the collection that drew disapproval: By many accounts, Ford took the runway at the end of the show, appearing to wait for a standing ovation—which made for an understandably awkward moment when said ovation didn’t quite happen. Lynn Yaeger, writing for The Cut, opined about it in quiz form.

“What eminent designer puts what seems like 150 looks on the runway — bottom-grabbing pencil skirts; tiny purple Floradora dresses — and forbids photography (apparently to lend an air of exclusivity, but in this case, maybe to protect his reputation) and emerges on the runway at the end of the show, then stands around with a bunny-in-the-headlights look in his eyes, waiting for a standing ovation that never comes?”

But lest you think all the reviews were so harsh, Cathy Horyn praised the Tom Ford-ness of the collection. “Mr. Ford’s show was thoroughly Tom Ford in its sex appeal and silhouette—tigress hair, smoky eyes, glossy lips, taut skirts and strappy high heels,” she wrote for the New York Times.

“The collection was loaded up with great day clothes, including loosely laced Moroccan blouses, fringed skirts and some simple but gorgeous dresses with ruching or a belt at the waist and a bubbled hem. A number of outfits also had corsets blended into the tone of the blouse. Equally strong were his evening option of slinky black pants—more like a ski pant—with a simple chiffon T-shirt coated with feathers at the front.”

While Long Nguyen, reporting for Fashionista, didn’t get into specifics, he did praise Ford’s intricate work. “I sat so close to the models that I could actually see the detailed work of each garment. I can assure you that the women who buy these clothes will have a wide range of Mr. Ford’s signature silhouettes to choose from. Furthermore, I will say that customers will not see dramatic changes from one season to another–instead this collection seemed to progress from the one before (albeit at a slower pace than what is now expected of designers to churn out new collections every two months).”

And Hamish Bowles, writing for Vogue, called it a “bravura collection” from “the city’s most shamelessly glamorous designer.”

“Amongst the hourglass silhouettes and powerfully sensual effects beloved of Ford fans since his work at Gucci in the nineties, there was a thread of Pre-Raphaelite romanticism in embroidered peasant blouses (of the type Matisse loved to paint), and even frothy, Renaissance-sleeved dresses that evoked the work of the great sixties and seventies London designer Ossie Clark,” he wrote.”

You’ll have to wait for the images to break next month to decide for yourself, but we’d say the reviews are equally split.