Tom Ford transitions from sketching to directing - The former Gucci designer sets his sights on conquering Hollywood -- again

By Karyn L. Barr
Updated April 23, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT

As in-demand designer Tom Ford officially leaves the Gucci Group April 30, the 42-year-old Texan is saying arrivederci, Milan, and — confirming months of chic-clique chin-wagging — sashaying West to be America’s next top…director.

”Style gets out there when it’s filtered through L.A. in film, television, and music videos,” says Ford. ”The two are very linked at this moment.”

Though he’s mum on the details, Ford’s designs are hardly sketchy. The former actor’s been schmoozing A-listers like Nicole Kidman for years. And he’s signed with CAA (friend and agent Bryan Lourd reps Madonna and costumer-turned-director Joel Schumacher).

”Hollywood won’t be a slam dunk,” predicts Patrick McCarthy, chairman of Fairchild Publications, which publishes fashion bibles W and WWD. ”But if anybody has the ability to succeed as an outsider, it’s Tom. It all depends on whether his instincts as a director are right.”

Ford’s red-carpet fans are optimistic. ”Taste is taste. Style is style,” said Arrested Development’s Portia de Rossi at March 28’s Rodeo Drive Walk of Style Award ceremony, which honored Ford. ”That will translate into film.” Says Christina Applegate: ”Fashion’s loss is Hollywood’s gain.” Even if she’s stuck without a Ford-designed ensemble to wear to her next event? ”We can always get vintage Gucci.”