Excerpt: 'Tom Ford'

Tom's other invention, of course, was his own persona as a glamorous figurehead for the Gucci Group. He understood instinctively that to give public prominence to the visionary behind a brand is to animate the connection between the brand and the woman who buys the clothes. He was the celebrity designer par excellence. Everytime he appeared in a fabulous setting -- on a red carpet, or a ski slope in Gstaad, or a plain in the American West - his designs increased in excitement and fun and possibility.

It goes without saying that his absence from the design world leaves a gap that will not easily be filled. Tom's final collections for Gucci and YSL Rive Gauche showed us what we're going to miss. As the models came down the catwalks in their luxurious, nuanced, and intriguingly erotic finery, my pleasure was mixed with a sense of disbelief that these were the last offerings that would be ours to enjoy, and that after this there would be no more. I remain convinced that whatever new directions he chooses to follow, he is not lost to fashion forever. One day, I am sure, I will take my seat and once more prepare to be surprised and delighted.

Introduction by "Vanity Fair's" Graydon Carter:

Tom Ford is the only man in the world who has ever grabbed my a--. It was at a party in L.A. and it was late, and we'd all had way too much to drink, and he just came up behind me and, well, grabbed it. I'm a devout heterosexual, but I have to admit I was sort of flattered.

He cuts quite a swath, Tom does. And the thing about him that most people don't know is that he's funny -- really funny. He's got a nimble mind. He's loyal to a fault. And he's great company. People are drawn to Tom because he takes his work seriously, but rarely himself. He smokes. He drinks. He sips from life's full cup.

I'm too old and fat to wear the clothes Tom makes. But a few years ago I realized that I'd been dressing the same way for ages, and that I needed to freshen up my look a bit. I saw Alexander von Furstenberg wearing a pair of those long, square-toed, black loafers Gucci made a few years back. They looked great on him, so I went out and bought a pair. I put them on at home and found it almost impossible to walk; it was like moving around with snorkeling fins on. Also, they were completely age-inappropriate for me, and I looked a right fool. They're still in my closet. Size 11. Worn just that once. If you're in the market, call me.

So I'm certainly not the one to wax on about Tom's "important shoe," but I can testify to this: Tom's a very sexy man, as he no doubt would be the first to tell you. Virtually all women who meet him want to have sex with him. Men admire him not only for his dash and drive but, for his cool business head. And, of course, a lot of them want to have sex with him, too. It's not just the God-given chiseled bone structure. Or that, as his chum Lisa Eisner puts it: "He smells good." It's that Tom can't help but look perfect pretty much all the time. Even when he's "dressed down" in a pair of filthy, frayed jeans, the jeans are expertly filthed and perfectly frayed. And let's face it, Tom is one of the few men in this day and age who can get away with a shirt unbuttoned to the navel and not look like a backup singer for Tom Jones or Englebert Humperdinck.

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