December 19th, 2012 / posted by paularath

Some celebrities love to have their names on things – fragrance, clothing, handbags, makeup, you name it – but they’re really only figure heads, loaning their star power to a product. They have precious little to do with the product that bears their name.

Not so with Tom Ford. The multi-talented fashion designer,  screenwriter, film director and actor is an extremely hands-on kind of guy. That is very clear in his handling of his latest venture, Tom Ford Beauty. Since he introduced Tom Ford Beauty in November, 2011, “Everything is decided by him and he has his hand in everything. He even approves his blotter card,” said Alberto Mayoral, an account executive with Tom Ford Beauty who oversees the western states, including Hawaii. I met with Alberto at the new Tom Ford Beauty boutique in Neiman Marcus Ala Moana.

Tom Ford didn’t start out to be a fashion designer. He studied architecture at Parsons. It was on the Paris campus that he had a revelation: He didn’t want to be an architect; he wanted to be a fashion designer. Tom Ford made his name internationally with Gucci. From 1990 to 2005, he reinvented Gucci as the ultimate hipster luxury label. Under his creative direction Gucci became the most talked about luxury brand in the world.

Tom Ford Beauty actually began with fragrance. While his signature scents, such as Jasmine Noir, Grey Vetiver and Black Orchid, are carried in Neiman Marcus, Saks and Bloomingdale’s, the Tom Ford Private Blend fragrances have a very limited distribution and Neiman Marcus Ala Moana is among the few stores to carry them.

Tom Ford himself is involved in the naming of every product and each decision regarding packaging, which is sleek, sexy and elegant. Some of the names are a bit risque and, Alberto said, “Some  f our accounts wanted us to change some names – such as Better Bitch – but he refused.”

Since Tom Ford Beauty is being built from the ground up, and the designer is very much alive and involved, the company is able to plan out product development in every aspect. For example, as they are creating the makeup, they can create the brush that will work best with the formulation. As they develop the cleanser, they are formulating the toner and moisturizer to complement it.

Tom Ford Nails are gel-based for longer wear ($30).

Tom Ford Beauty now has 140 products plus seasonal spring and fall collections. (As a fashion designer he simply cannot get away form the whole seasonal thing.)

The skin care line is tailored and simplified for the busy modern woman. There are just eight skin care products. They contain plant extracts, caffeine and nano extract. Alberto explained: “Women want to know ‘What’s it gonna do for me’, and ‘How will it make me feel.?’ At Tom Ford it’s about empowering women.”

Many of the skin care products multi-task. For example, the primer is also a moisturizer; illuminators are also concealers and correctors; the lipsticks are also lip balms containing chamomile and grape seed oils.

As for makeup, the foundations are what really caught my eye and copped a feel. They come in two formulations, fluid and stick ($78), and both feel incredibly luxurious on the skin. They go on sheer but are easily buildable. Foundation is the one makeup I am willing to spend more for. It’s kinda like skin care, literally a foundation for anything else you put on your face.

I have a friend who is already hooked on the Noir Absolute gel eyeliner ($35). She loves the way it looks and wears. Although it is called noir (black), it has a spark of blue optics that catch the light and make eyes look brighter.

Tom Ford Beauty clearly pays a great deal of attention to what’s happening in the marketplace. For example the nail enamels are gel based and the eye shadows come in four formulations: celestial, sheer, matte and satin.

While the Tom Ford lipsticks have already grown a cult following, the line does not have any lip liners. “We don’t make lip liners because they can age you if used improperly,” Alberto said. “Use the lip brush as a liner. That’s all you need. Our lipsticks don’t travel.”


Alberto Mayoral of Tom Ford Beauty.

I’m always curious about how people attain their positions, so of course I had to ask Alberto about his professional background. “The industry chose me,” was his one-liner. When he was 17, he was already a national makeup artist for Chanel Beaute. He received training in London and Paris and also worked for Dior. “I just kind of progressed,” he said, from a national artist to a training director to an account executive for t he Western U.S.”  His job involves hiring and training the personnel working in the Tom Ford boutiques. By the way, the Tom Ford Beauty specialists wear Tom Ford clothing.


Tom Ford Shade & Illuminate compact, used to sculpt the face using the lighter shade as a highlighter and the darker one wherever you want a feature to recede. These feel heavenly on the skin.


Tom Ford Brow Sculptor ($40) has a slanted edge for easy application and comes with its own sharpener.

When you visit the Tom Ford boutique in Neiman Marcus Ala Moana, you will be greeted by Stephen Kalama, who was formerly with the Laura Mercier and Giorgio Armani counters. If you know Stephen, who has been named employee of the year at NM Ala Moana and was sent to Dallas to be celebrated, you know that he is honest and straightforward with his customers. He is great at helping you find the best products for your skin and style – which is especially helpful because the Tom Ford products are expensive and you don’t want to buy the wrong thing and let it languish in your boudoir or makeup kit.

– Paula Rath

What are they saying?
Leave a comment below.
Stephen Kalama
December 20th, 2012 at 8:48 am

Aloha Paula for your wonderful review. Your opinion and insights always mean so much to me. Tom Ford is a luxury cosmetic brand which any woman or man can enjoy.
It’s all about the experience you will receive when you visit
The Tom Ford beauty boutique .

Mahalo nui
Stephen Kalama

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