‘Power of a woman’: Sharon Stone and Françoise Hardy offer inspiration at Tom Ford

<span>Models on the catwalk at Tom Ford autumn/winter 2024-25 collection at Milan fashion week.</span><span>Photograph: Claudia Greco/Reuters</span>
Models on the catwalk at Tom Ford autumn/winter 2024-25 collection at Milan fashion week.Photograph: Claudia Greco/Reuters

Sharon Stone and Peter Hawkings, the creative director of Tom Ford, were talking after his show in Milan on Thursday night. Not about anything as quotidian as the torrential rain outside, which was consolidating into sizeable puddles at the entrance to the venue, but “about the power of a woman … that’s exactly what I want to evoke with the Tom Ford man/woman – the power of the glamour”.

The glamour was certainly potent. Not least via the guests who gathered for the show – from Stone to Alek Wek, Uma Thurman, Eva Green and Amber Valletta, whose flawless posture not once faltered as she watched from the front row.

Stone’s turn in Basic Instinct had, said Hawkings, been on his mood board “for ever”. But this season he was also inspired by “power and seduction – you know it’s an edge of Françoise Hardy and some stature of Helmut Newton’s Pola woman”.

When Ford exited his namesake brand last year, after its sale to Estée Lauder for $2.8bn (£2.2bn), in Hawkings a successor was picked who was cut from the same cloth. He began his career under Ford at Gucci in 1998, moving over to work with him at his eponymous label in 2006, most recently as senior vice-president of menswear. Taking on his current mantle has meant taking on womenswear for the first time, and bringing the Tom Ford universe into a more co-ed space.

If last season’s debut collection made a “convincing case for the viability of Tom Ford fashion without Tom Ford the man”, this season the idea may have been not to rock the boat, but also to add a little newness and points of difference, too.

Ford is fashion’s king of sex and sex appeal, and Hawkings deployed some high-voltage touches that could have come from the playbook of his predecessor – hip-bone-high slits in chain-mail dresses, fishnet dresses worn under extravagant faux-fur coats, dresses with modestly high necklines made entirely of sheer fabric, mesh catsuits with more holes than your average trawler’s net. A few designs were backless bar a slither of fabric as thin as a skinny fry that traced its way along the spine. There were also plunging V-necks – the Tom Ford universe is not big on buttons – as well as bondage-adjacent designs.

Perhaps the difference could be seen in a few tweaks. Known for hyperbolically skinny trousers, this season the silhouette came “slightly more flared and also a little bit higher to work with the waistcoats”.

After his debut collection, asked who he pictured as the Tom Ford woman, Hawkings immediately named his wife, the entrepreneur Whitney Bromberg Hawkings. Backstage, she gave her take on the Tom Ford woman: “She’s confident, she’s not afraid of attention, of being noticed, but I think now she is easing into a slightly more effortless sexiness.” Her husband, she said, “loves a strong woman – he’s married to a strong woman and so I think there’s a real feminist edge. This woman is in control.”

While the Tom Ford brand might not instantly make you think of outerwear, Bromberg Hawkins listed the pea coats as top of her list from the night’s looks, as well as the skorts. “There was a certain modesty in the sexiness, which I like. They were very covered but still super seductive.”