Peter Hawkings, the recently appointed creative director of Tom Ford, cuts a dashing figure in a crisp ivory suit, possibly the most pristine white v-neck tee I have ever clapped eyes on, and tinted aviator shades (I forgot to ask if they were prescription, or simply sunglasses) when we meet at the brand’s London HQ in early September. He was, until his appointment in April, an almost entirely unknown figure, but that is all set to change when Hawkings makes his debut this Thursday in Milan with his Tom Ford show at the Palazzo del Ghiaccio.
Understandably, Hawkings, 49, was pretty tight-lipped about what he was actually going to present, not wanting to spoil it. “Stop digging, Mark!” he said, laughing, when I tried for the umpteenth time to get a sliver of info about the collection. Yet what is apparent is his absolute joy at following in the footsteps of a designer (and a good friend) he reveres, and a brand he loves. (And to show his support, Ford will be at the show.)
Of course, Hawkings’s connection to Tom Ford—the man and the brand—goes way back: He has only ever worked for Ford, designing menswear, first at Gucci, and then at his namesake label, starting some 25 years ago. Hawkings also met his wife, Whitney Bromberg—nowadays better known as the founder and CEO of Flowerbx—at Gucci (back then she was Ford’s senior vice president of communications). The couple have now been married for 18 years and have three children: sons Barron, 15, and Snowdon, 13, and daughter Wallis, 7.
Something else Hawkings is readying himself for in his new role: Having to talk about his work. This was to be his first interview, and I am not sure who was more nervous—me or him. On reflection, perhaps the former: Hawkings is charming, down to earth, and with a keen sense of humor. He might have wanted to keep schtum about his debut, but otherwise, he had plenty to say.
Vogue: Talk me through how you see Tom Ford—your Tom Ford?
Peter Hawkings: Obviously it’s a huge responsibility to move the brand forward while respecting Tom and the legacy that he’s created. I worked with Tom for 25 years—so many of his codes and design references have become ingrained in me. I’ve used that to create my own codes—of glamour, sexiness, elegance, and beauty. What’s really important as well is to have the men’s and the women’s collections closer together—for them to be unified.