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Tom Ford presents one final collection as he walks away from fashion

 (Tom Ford)
(Tom Ford)

Tom Ford has been fashion’s darling since he stepped into Gucci in 1990. In just four years he rose to become creative director, and by 1999 had made the near bankrupt house valued at over $4 billion.

Then, after heading up the esteemed house of Yves Saint Laurent from 1999 - 2004, he founded his own eponymous label, Tom Ford, in 2006. Nearly two decades on, the Texan-born, 61-year-old designer has just presented his “final collection.” It comes after news broke Ford and his longtime business partner Domenico De Sole sold the company to Estée Lauder for around $3 billion in August last year.

 (Tom Ford)
(Tom Ford)

There was no big show, packed with the celebrities that adored his clothes - in the last year alone, these count everyone from Cate Blanchett and Madonna to Austin Butler, Cardi B, Jennifer Lopez and Tom Cruise. There was no confetti, and no fireworks.

Instead, with a series of short films directed by Steven Klein, Ford bows out on his own terms. This is not the most surprising of twists - he is a filmmaker, and has run his own production company Fade to Black since 2005, directing classics including the Acadamey Award winning ‘A Single Man’.

 (Tom Ford)
(Tom Ford)

The traid of fashion films themselves, however, are not what you might expect. Together they rush through the Tom Ford archive, worn by a selection of models and supers - Amber Valletta, Karlie Kloss, Karen Elson and Joan Small - trapped in sterile glass boxes, thrusting inside with eerie dance moves, and walking up and down on command.

Ford himself plays a leading role. Outside the cage-like-constructions, he struts along and directs them with conducting gestures. It almost feels like 90s high fashion satire: models trapped as clothes horses, and the daunting caricature of a celestial designer.

 (Tom Ford)
(Tom Ford)

By the final film, more celebratory tutti-frutti sequinned mini dresses and green leopard print suits have been swapped for mourning gear. Kloss wears a veil while Elson wails and Valletta sobs. For what we are told will be his parting tableau to the industry, it is something of an enigma to unpack - not helped by the deliberate withholding of any context.

 (Tom Ford)
(Tom Ford)

Is it that fashion is left to ruin without the great Mr Ford? Or, bigger, that the business of fashion has got ugly, and the designer is content in observing the toils with the safety of a screen.

Ford will not comment. He doesn’t need to. After three decades flying up through the industry, it is likely he has said everything he wanted to say.