Tom Brady and Tom Ford knew each other through Giselle. I provided Mr. Ford with potential talking points and moderated the interview.
PHOTOGRAPHY MARIO TESTINO
FASHION CARINE ROITFELD
INTERVIEW TOM FORD
TOM BRADY, FOOTBALL'S QUINTESSENTIAL QUARTERBACK, DONS BESPOKE TUXEDOS AND TALKS LOVE, LIFE, AND THE FUTURE WITH FASHION'S ONE-MAN SHOW, MR. TOM FORD
TOM FORD Where are you, Tom?
TOM BRADY I’m in L.A. You’re in London?
TF I’m in London. I was in L.A. two days ago, I was just there for two days. I was redoing something on my house there, so I came out to meet the architects. Before that I was in Santa Fe for a day—I have a house there as well and I was redoing something. Before that I was at the Met Ball, where I saw you.
TB Where’s your place in L.A.?
TF In Bel Air. And where is your place?
TB We’ve been in Brentwood for about six months—we actually moved out here four years ago and started construction on a house. We just moved in this past February.
TF Who was the architect?
TB Richard Landry.
TF And do you love it?
TB Yeah, oh man.
TF Are you interested in architecture, did you work on it a lot with him?
TB My wife and I both. I think the last three places I’ve been in, and the last two places she’s been in, we’ve kind of done ourselves, starting from scratch. so I’ve gotten better at it than I would have thought, just through the habit of moving and acquiring a little bit of taste. You figure out what you like and what you don’t.
TF Did you grow up liking architecture or with a strong visual sense? Because you definitely have a visual sense now, in the way you dress and the way you project yourself to the world—more so than most football players and most men in sports, and most men in general.
TB My dad’s a little bit of a snappy dresser, but I’d say it’s been acquired over time. I wouldn’t consider myself a very artistic person, but at the same time I do like to express myself in certain ways, whether it’s through my home— which people will see—or how I dress and speak. those things are all important, I try to pay attention to those things.
TF I was looking at some photos of you from VMAN by Inez and Vinoodh [Fall/Winter 2007], and one of the things that fascinates me most about you is that in America you are one of the most macho things that a man can be: you’re a football star. And yet when I look at those pictures, you’re also not afraid to look senstive or vulnerable, and to let that side be exposed—I’m impressed by that. You must be incredibly comfortable with yourself.
TB I think to a degree I am. I don’t really have anything to hide. I grew up with three older sisters and I have a very sensitive mom and a very sensitive dad, it was an environment where people weren’t afraid to express how they really felt or to express their emotions. I’m very blessed to be able to do that because with my two boys—I kiss them a thousand times a day. My wife and I are very affectionate, it’s just part of our nature. I’m not really concerned with portraying this tough warrior—I mean, that’s part of my job and I take that very seriously. But I don’t have anything to hide and I’m not concerned with what people think—in the end it’s a matter of how comfortable we are with ourselves, how we feel about ourselves when we wake up in the morning. everyone can portray what they want to portray, but the authentic self and who you are as a person, a human being, that, to me, is what is most important. those are the things that last.
TF It’s amazing you’ve come to that so early in your life. I think a lot of times it takes people years to understand that and to be comfortable with themselves. I wasn’t nearly as comfortable with myself at your age as I am now. It’s taken me a long, long time to get to that point.
TB Maybe I’ve had a lot of experiences which forced me to grow up really quickly.
TF Well, competition and pressure on you profession- ally forces you to grow up. Getting to the top is one thing. Staying on top—that is so hard, as you know. And you’ve managed to do it. Your comfort with your image and with your masculinity, which allows you to show a sensitive side, I haven’t seen really since Joe Namath. I know that Joe Montana was an early influence on you, and I think that you’ve been interested in football since you were four years old, correct?
TB Yeah. When I was growing up, I was never really interested in school. homework was just how fast can I do it so I can get out to the yard and play. I didn’t read a lot of books, I didn’t study very hard. I got by and I did fine in school. thank god [football] worked out or else I’d have been screwed.
TF You know, we’ve talked about this once before because I asked you to be in my film [A Single Man]. So, where are you going to be in five years? Are you going to be an actor, are you going to be a television personality? What are you going to be doing?
TB hopefully I’m still in my sport at that time.
TF How long can you play, realistically? Until what age?
TB Well, everyone thinks that when you get into your mid or late 30s your career is pretty much over. I don’t think that.
TF How old are you, 35?
TB I’m 34. I’ll be 35 this year.
TF And you’re a Leo, born August 3, 1977.
TB Yeah, and you, what are you?
TF I’m a Virgo, August 27, 1961. I’ll be 51 this year. Are you an introvert or are you an extrovert, do you like being around people or are you more comfortable alone?
TB I prefer to be alone. or with people that I can be myself around.
TF So, for example, the Met Ball—and we won’t say anything about the Met Ball—but that kind of big event, do you like those things?
TB With all due respect to the people in the room, no [laughs].
TF I know, I don’t either. Those things are like the Oscars—any of them, it has nothing to do with the Met Ball, it’s any big event like that. Oh my God, there’s nothing I would rather do less. Just the stress of that. And of course I know the stress of being with a woman like Gisele who has to get up the red carpet and be beautiful and photographed and has to wear something that nobody rips apart in the press. It is so stressful, especially for women, so I’m sure you must feel her stress. Or maybe she doesn’t get stressed at those things, but I would think she would.
TB It would be impossible not to.
TF And I notice you and Gisele always get up and dance at those events, which I appreciate. But it was pretty funny listening to Bruno Mars singing “You’re Amazing Just the Way You Are” [at the Met Ball] when it was in front of a thousand people who are rich, beautiful, wear- ing a million dollars worth of jewelry, and dressed in $30,000 dresses that are only good this season because next season it’s all going to look out-of-date. That was quite funny because it’s this industry, of course, that makes people feel like they have to change. I have such a split personality about it. On the one hand I want to go off and live in the desert with my dog and sculpt things out of adobe, but then on the other I’m part of this industry that creates insecurity and focuses on materialism and things that aren’t actually, for me, the most important things in life. So it’s strange.
TB That’s probably a nice balance for you too, though, because you can see both of those things.
TF I finally came to terms with it, because whether we like it or not, we do live in a material world.
TB By the way, how many times?
TF Say that again?
TB how many times have you worked with her?
TF Oh God! I thought you meant how many times did I sleep with her? I was about to say “Never.” You sounded so tough [laughs]. There are so many beautiful pictures of your wife, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bad one.
TB I’m telling you, she makes it look easy. Because it’s not easy, oh my god it’s not easy.
TF No, it’s a horrible job. I feel really sorry for models. I’m serious. It’s a horrible job. They get rejected and treated like they’re not even people. And this sounds negative, but when you’re considered one of the most beautiful women in the world, it’s very, very hard when that starts to slip away. It’s hard to feel good about yourself when people react to you differently. And, Gisele, I hope you’re not reading this, because it is going to sound negative, but I know through some of my best friends who are really famous actresses— I’m not going to mention their names—who were at one point considered to be among the most beautiful women in the world at different periods of time, and how hard it is for them emotionally. So I hope Gisele is prepared for that, because it’s so difficult. It’ll be the same for you when you quit playing football, it’ll be a real change. Could you see yourself just retiring and not doing anything but playing golf and tennis and taking care of your kids?
TB No, I have to do something. hopefully you’ll put me in one of your movies some day [laughs]. I don’t know. It’s hard to think about where my interests will take me. But [an actor] is not something that I’ve ever aspired to be. the only thing I ever wanted to be was a professional football player.
TF But I don’t see you as a coach.
TB I know, and that’s the thing, because whatever I do choose to do I really want to be very good at it. It’s hard because I want to have four kids and I want to be a really good dad, too.
TF I think that you’ll be an actor and a movie star. Maybe you don’t care about it, maybe you wouldn’t enjoy it, but you have everything it takes to do it: you have intelligence, sensitivity, you’re handsome, the camera likes you, you’re secure. So you could be a really good actor.
TB I appreciate that. I’m very flattered that you would think that, thank you very much. But I love playing football and I love the game. I love the competitiveness, I love the intensity, and also that it’s a very strategic game. even people who think they know it—people who cover it every day, people who watch it—they don’t. It’s so stimulating, because there are so many different elements to it. that’s why I’ve always loved it, because it challenges me in so many ways, not just physically, but emotionally, spiritu- ally, and psychologically. the best players who can stick around the longest really develop ways to master all of those elements. hopefully I can play a lot longer than what people may think.
TF So you’re going to play into your 40s?
TB I would love to.
TF So 10 years from now you’re going to be playing football, happily married with four kids.
TB That would be perfect. I would love that. But who knows.