I haven't seen Tom Ford away from the runway for more than a decade. And so, when we meet for a presentation of his autumn collection I say: "I don't think we've met for more than 10 years."
"And we look just the same," he answers, quick as a flash.
"Well, you do," says I.
And indeed he does. There is, we all know, hardly a more fragrant or well-groomed soul than Mr Ford and he wants his women to look that way too.
Now, the ramped-up glamour of Tom Ford's aesthetic is not to everyone's taste. The great thing about it, however, is that he means it. He lives the life, clearly, and in an ideal world, where every woman has perfect teeth, a live-in hair and make-up artist and, of course, the long, lean physique of a fashion illustration, we would all do so too.
"Here are the girls," says Ford, as one swan-like creature after another comes out into his plush, Howick Place salon. And then he personally talks a mere handful of journalists through their looks in the manner, not insignificantly, of a latter-day Yves Saint Laurent.
With that in mind: "This is not really Belle de Jour, more Belle de Soir," Ford quips of a shearling-lined, tightly-waisted, leather trench coat. More words of wisdom: "A woman doesn't want to wear a man's suit." And so tailoring borrowed from a man boasts the same, pencil thin, sharp-shouldered silhouette.
Shoes are spiky and have baby crocodile tails on them. There's an alpaca fur dyed cobalt blue or marigold yellow here, a crystal vest ("You can wear this under anything!" Ford exclaims happily) there.
"This is my favourite dress because it's so simple," he concludes as a final model emerges in a draped languid white column dress. It is, of course, anything but.
Oh to be a woman who has the time and space in her life to wear such a gown or indeed to throw on a T-shirt constructed entirely out of semi-precious rocks. "I've done this before," Ford says, a little defensively, as one exit after another references his Gucci heyday in the late 1990s. And nobody has dressed this particular Mistress of the Universe better since then.
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