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Tom Ford RTW Spring 2024

Peter Hawkings made his runway debut with a collection one might call "Tom Ford lite.”

Peter Hawkings made his runway debut at Tom Ford on Thursday night with a collection one might call “Tom Ford lite.”

Everything from the velvet banquette show seating to the rectangular tortoise glasses the designer wore when he took his bow would be familiar to those in the industry who lived through Ford’s hedonistic heyday at Gucci in the ‘90s.

The collection was also reminiscent of those glory days when Amber Valletta’s slinky white jersey gowns and Gwyneth Paltrow’s velvet pantsuits gutted the grunge look and ushered in a new era of 1960s and 1970s reminiscent glamour, only it lacked some of Ford’s showmanship and polish.

Backstage, Hawkings, who worked with Ford for 25 years designing menswear at both Gucci and Ford’s namesake label, spoke about wanting to turn the page in his own way.

“I am done with oversize, I don’t think it looks beautiful or shows off the elegance of the body. That’s key as you can see in the fit. And I’m detail-obsessed with everything from bags to hardware. The shoes, I did a complete overhaul, the manufacturing, the comfort, design and everything,” he said.

Working with Zegna — the licensee for Ford’s women’s and menswear and accessories from brand owner The Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. — the fabrics were all developed exclusively for the collection, which paid homage to Detroit-born Black supermodel Donyale Luna in its slick wardrobe of leather jackets and side slit skirts, threadwork dresses, fringed gold minis and silky shirts unbuttoned to the naval.

Hawkings revisited Ford’s iconic velvet pantsuits, updating the look with cheeky short-shorts, as well as his slinky jersey dresses with keyhole cutouts, open backs and gold buckles.

The designer’s love of the ’60s and ’70s comes not from Studio 54 like Ford’s, but “from my mother back in the day,” Hawkings said. “I remember her creating amazing patterns — we didn’t come from a privileged background, my dad was a builder, my mom was a nurse. But she would buy those YSL Vogue patterns, she always cared about her presentation, that’s what attracted me to Tom to work with him all those years ago.”

His broader vision is to bring Tom Ford women’s closer to the men’s. “There’s been a disconnect in the past with Tom and his team based in L.A.,” the London-based Hawkings said of connecting the two, which he did with fine tailoring, shared vivid color palette and metallic accents.

Altogether it was a very controlled, very commercial collection — as evidenced by the bread-and-butter eyewear sported by every model (made by licensee Marcolin) — which should find a customer looking to relive Ford’s greatest hits without having to hunt for them on the vintage market. But hopefully, as Hawkings grows into the role, he will let loose with more creative spark of his own.

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