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Tom Ford Talks His Mid-Life Crisis, How He Will Never Retire

>> Tom Ford is mulling a return to women's fashion as early as next season; he feels like fashion has floundered since he left Gucci in 2004, he told W, and wishes the decade didn't have such a lack of definitive looks: "I don’t mean that that has anything to do with my leaving. I could feel [fashion] starting to flounder before I left, which helped me feel good about getting out at the time.”

But it wasn't all good: Ford had "a pretty intense midlife crisis" two years before leaving Gucci, around his 40th birthday.

“I started to sink emotionally, spiritually. I became a little bit lost. Leaving Gucci, it intensified because I had been able to cling to my job and to my work and to my identity as a successful fashion designer, and all of a sudden that was gone. It forced me to really think, Well, what am I, who am I, what am I about? It took me a bit of time to figure that out. I think this happens to most people in their life if they’re insightful enough to indulge it and to get through to the other side.”

 "I hope I don’t come off sounding too rich and spoiled." »

He doesn't want you to feel bad for him, though.

“I have a very dark side, a side that has struggled a lot with depression, and I’ve never been one who showed that to the outside world. I think when you say to someone, ‘Good morning. How are you?’ they should say, ‘Great, terrific,’ because everyone struggles in life. The Yves Saint Laurent thing used to drive me nuts — his depressions, his alcoholism, his whatever. Most people have a lot of problems. You can define yourself by them, or you can realize that everyone is going through what you’re going through and you make the best of it and you get on with your life and you don’t necessarily inflict that, because others probably have that too. They’re just not inflicting it on you.”

Especially when he's got a number of houses, all bought or commissioned in his post-Gucci downtime.

“We have a six-floor house in London. I’d love to have a flat where Richard [Buckley, his longtime partner] and I could live in a more intimate way. I started with nothing. Richard and I used to live on St. Marks Place [in New York], above Café Orlin, and in a lot of ways we were just as happy, if not happier. We cooked dinner together and we lived in a tighter environment, and I would like — and we have made real efforts — to live that way again.”

“We can live in a very glamorous giant one-bedroom flat where we both have our own bathrooms and dressing rooms and where we actually make our own dinner in the kitchen and don’t need six floors and an elevator and don’t have to page each other to find each other in the house. We page each other. ‘Richard, where are you? Pick up. I’m on . . . ’ There are two of us and two dogs on six floors. It’s silly . . . I hope I don’t come off sounding too rich and spoiled.”

After leaving Gucci, he tried out early retirement for three months.

“Hell. Horrible. Hated it. I learned I will never retire. I will work like Philip Johnson until the day I drop dead. I was miserable. It really disturbed me that I no longer had a voice in contemporary culture. I didn’t have any way to express myself.”

But he's still Tom Ford, through and through.

“Just because I’ve become spiritual doesn’t mean I can’t love crocodile.”

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