A Single Man, directed by designer Tom Ford made its television debut this week. While the movie, starring Colin Firth and Julianne Moore, has been lauded for its actors’ performances, it’s Ford who surprises. The American designer, best known for the turnaround he managed with Gucci and the creation of his own label, Tom Ford, ventured into unchartered territory and is clearly nowhere close to lost. The film was nominated for the Golden Lion at the 66th Venice International Film Festival.But this is not the first time a fashion designer has trod a different path. In India, Manish Malhotra took a detour way back in 2005 with his talk show, The Manish Malhotra Show, and is now getting ready to go the Tom Ford way — directing with Dharma Productions.
Designer Krsna Mehta, who started off with furnishings, branched out into artwork (using silk screens, digital photography and paint) and furniture. "A designer is a creative person, and should not restrict creativity to garments alone. Why not expand your creativity energies into other fields if you feel capable?" asks Mehta, adding that besides having a great eye for detail, Tom Ford also has a great business mind and knows the pulse of the market. "He knows what is expected and how to go beyond. A Single Man is definitely one of the finest films directed by a debutant who is a designer," he adds.
Designer Neeta Lulla, who started out as a fashion choreographer and then went on to become a designer, says that fashion designers who turn filmmakers have an advantage. “The advantage a fashion designer would have in making movies is that he can totally visualise the look of the actors and so, make the movie a visual treat,” says Lulla.
So is this a trend that is catching on? Asmita Marwa, a designer and occasional fashion writer thinks not. “I don't know if I see it as a trend but when you are a creative person you want to explore different mediums of expression.”
However, designer Nandita Thirani, who branched into hand-embroidered home furnishings (among other products) with her company Design Partners, avers, “Art is a form of expression. Designers and filmmakers are both artist. Designing ramp shows always involves some dramatics and direction, so Tom Ford’s film is a natural extension of his creativity.” Interestingly, Karan Johar, has done the opposite — the successful filmmaker recently turned designer (in collaboration Varun Bahl) for the HDIL India Couture Week.