LOS ANGELES Just two days before the Academy Awards, Tom Ford turned heads by hosting his fall 2015 women’s runway show in Los Angeles. It was the first time the designer has ever shown on the West Coast, a decision driven partly by the first day of London Fashion Week—where Ford typically presents his collections—falling so close to the Oscars this year. The February 20 outing at Milk Studios also served to marry the designer’s dual passions of film and fashion.
A who’s who of Hollywood heavyweights, including Reese Witherspoon, Julianne Moore, Jennifer Lopez, Sofia Vergara, Gwyneth Paltrow, Scarlett Johansson, and Jay Z and Beyoncé attended the 39-look show, which took place in a fully customized space built to replicate the Ford’s show theater in London. Ford even personally dressed each of his celebrity friends in a combination of his namesake designs, as well as archival pieces from his years at Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent.
The 8,200-square-foot show space required leveling, so 4- by 8-foot steel deck modules were brought in, with each of the 200-plus module’s legs individually shimmed in order to create the final even surface. Ford’s team accessed Milk Studios six days prior to the event and worked in 24-hour shifts until Friday, the day of the show. In total, it took 150 hours to complete the set.
On show night, the 3,000 square feet of exterior entranceways of Milk Studios were transformed into pavilions for arrivals, with areas carved out for a step-and-repeat and, on the other side, ample spaces for guests to receive their seat cards and relax alfresco.
In most scenarios, coordinating such a multifaceted affair involving so many moving parts would be a daunting task. But Ford’s show, from start to finish, offered a refreshing change of pace, maintaining a calm elegance and approachable atmosphere where editors, society types, and bold-faced starlets all intermingled (translation: no hulking bodyguards; no roped-off V.I.P. areas).
As for the show itself, a small army of handsome male model staffers had strewn nearly 35,000 white rose petals on the runway—a moment that had many fashion industry folks harking back to his Gucci finale in 2004. For Ford, who has family in Los Angeles, maintains a second home in Bel Air, and is always in town for Oscar weekend, the sentiment was to bring the idea of snow to sunny Hollywood.
The show venue, however, had no traces of Malibu sun and surf. A total of 18 “suites” flanked both sides of the two-row runway seating, each boasting custom 12-foot walls, gray velvet draping, and gray carpeting. The smoky, sexy vibe was classic Ford and a nod to the Velvet Orchid and Black Orchid fragrances, which were in the gift bag.
The custom soundtrack, meanwhile, featured a playlist that included remixed songs by Jay Z, Marina featuring Charli XCX, Poe, Naughty Boy featuring Emile Sande, and Abel Korzeniowski.
Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly identified the fragrance in the gift bag.