There was a period of time while I was growing up when I hated the fact that I am a girl.
I didn’t grow up in the same circumstances as a lot of you so, as a child, I was branded “different” for a variety of reasons.
- My parents weren’t born in the U.S., so English wasn’t my first/only language growing up. That seemed weird to kids my age.
- While my friends were eating processed foods and getting treated to meals at McDonald’s and Burger King, my parents were going to farms and buying FRESH meat and growing produce in our backyard. And our backyard was in the middle of the city for awhile.
- I have a clear memory of a goat – an actual live goat – invading my bedroom while I was trying to sleep and munching on my favorite blanket. If that doesn’t traumatize you as a child, NOTHING will.
- Your lunch sandwich = turkey or BLT. My lunch sandwich = prosciutto and/or various Italian salamis.
- Your parents garage = a place to park their car. My parents garage = a place to keep 120-gallon barrels of fermenting wine and/or cabbage.
Anyway – you get the picture. My life was just a bit different than that of my friends, so I tried to blend in with them as much as I could. As a result, my personal style was nothing out of the ordinary – I wore the same types of clothing as everyone else and did everything I could to not stand out from the crowd.
Then, one day, it happened. I hit puberty and all of a sudden, as if by magic, these two huge lumps appeared on my chest! I swear it seemed like overnight I went from completely flat to a large C Cup. No in between. They just BallOOned. And I was completely mortified!
I think most girls get excited at the prospect of wearing their first bra (please correct me if I am wrong, ladies). Not me – I was having none of it. I already felt so “different” as a child that this sudden change was just another thing setting me apart from everyone else. While other girls were begging their mothers to take them shopping for training bras, I was begging mine not to make me wear one. I didn’t want to grow up. I didn’t want to be different – I wanted to shrink into the background and hide from everyone.
So what did I do? I refused to wear a bra and instead started wearing baggy clothing. Yeah. In my mind, baggy clothing hid the “problem” – even while the girls bounced around freely during gym class! (I was insane, OK?) In hindsight, I know that all I ended up doing was driving more attention to myself, but I thought I was doing the opposite.
I didn’t know it at the time, but that was when it started. That was when I first became ashamed of my body.
Eventually I came to my senses and began wearing that much-needed bra, but I never stopped feeling uncomfortable in my own skin. The girls grew larger (I was a D/DD in high school) and I still dressed to hide them. I would never wear something that drew attention to my curves and instead turned into a bit of a tomboy. This even remained true throughout high school and part of college.
It wasn’t until 1996 that I experienced a series of moments that finally allowed me to snap out of that self-loathing and not only accept, but embrace my curves.
It began with a single comment. John, my best friend and long-time crush, had known me since we were freshman in college and knew exactly what my style was. One day we were walking to class and he stopped, looked me up and down, and said “what’s up with the bodysuit?”
I don’t really remember how I ended up with said bodysuit in my wardrobe – I think it had something to do with the fact that it was teal (my favorite color) and velvet (perfect material for the Fall weather). It didn’t register to me at the time that it completely showed off my curves, but it certainly registered with him! All of a sudden it was like he finally realized I was a woman. And so did I.
That moment was a turning point for me, with the final realization to come a few weeks later.
I was sitting in the library and studying for a chemistry exam. Seeing that I absolutely despised that class, it wasn’t long before I needed a break. I wandered over to the periodicals, and was surprised to find some fashion magazines in the stack. I grabbed a Vogue and (I think) Harper’s Bazaar and started to go through them.
Now, you have to understand – I never looked at fashion magazines. I couldn’t have cared less about what the latest styles were or who was wearing what. It didn’t hold the slightest interest for me. Until that day.
As I flipped through the pages of Vogue, I came across these images and my world was turned upside down.
Many times a photo really does speak louder than words, and in this case, these images spoke to me. They were sexy. Alluring. Confident. Sophisticated. They were everything that I was not.
And while staring at that gorgeous dress, I suddenly realized that they were everything I wanted to be. That was where the bodysuit had come from – I had grown tired of hiding who I was but didn’t realize it. All it took to open my eyes was one comment – and one dress.
I went home and completely gutted my closet, got rid of the baggiest of the clothing, and started working on finding my real style. I started working on finding me.
I think each of us has had those moments – whether it was an image we loved, a moment with a friend of relative, a celebrity whose style we gushed over, or a random stranger we passed on the street – each of us has had a moment (or two) that inspired our love for fashion and design. These were mine.
And that, my friends, is how my love for Tom Ford and his designs began.
Today, many years later, I am still just as enthralled by the images above as I was on that fateful day in the library. So in honor of Mr. Ford, and his part in making me the fashion-lover I am today, I hope you’ll take a trip down memory lane with me and see why the Tom Ford Era at the House of GUCCI will, forever, be the era of my dreams.
Although I have a special place in my heart for GUCCI A/W 1996, I will always, always, ALWAYS say that 2004 was my favorite year of the House of GUCCI. These designs are just breathtaking. Sleek. Sexy. Modern. Romantic. Tom Ford doesn’t just design for women – he celebrates them. No where is that more evident than in these, his final, GUCCI collections.
…and just for fun…
Seriously – what is their NOT to love?! Pure genius.
Thank you, Mr. Ford. I owe it all mostly to you.
On a related note: You MUST check out grit and glamour tomorrow, February 23rd, for some seriously sexy coverage (livestream and not 1 but 2 tweetstreams!) of GUCCI’s A/W 2011 Fashion Show! It’ll be THE place to be tomorrow!