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C California Style

Lisa Eisner in Tom Ford’s show when he returned to womenswear in 2010. PHOTO: COURTESY OF TOM FORD.
A sketch by Eisner’s son.
“That safari picture was taken on Richard [Buckley’s] 50th birthday; it was just them, me and Richard’s friend Gerry, and it was amazing.” PHOTO: RICHARD BUCKLEY.
The Butterfly necklace. PHOTO: COURTESY OF LISA EISNER AND TOM FORD.
The logo for the jewelry line. PHOTO: COURTESY OF LISA EISNER AND TOM FORD.
Lisa Eisner for Tom Ford jewelry on the Spring/Summer 2015 runway. PHOTO: COURTESY OF LISA EISNER AND TOM FORD.
The Starburst necklace. PHOTO: COURTESY OF LISA EISNER AND TOM FORD.
The Butterfly necklace in the Tom Ford Rodeo Drive window. PHOTO: COURTESY OF LISA EISNER AND TOM FORD.
Eisner and Ford at a Vanity Fair dinner. PHOTO: Kevin Mazur/VF13/GETTY .
Double bracelets depicting the universe exploding. PHOTO: COURTESY OF LISA EISNER AND TOM FORD.

Friends with Benefits

by C California Style

With a new collaboration, Tom Ford and Lisa Eisner take their fashionable rapport to the next level.

“The first time I laid eyes on her, I was in love,” says designer Tom Ford of Lisa Eisner, recalling the moment his now-husband, Richard Buckley, introduced them. More than 20 years later, the relationship has taken on familial qualities, with Eisner and her husband, Eric, attending Ford and Buckley’s very private nuptials last year. Now, the tight-knit pair’s friendship enters uncharted territory as they team up on a jewelry collaboration—bold, handcrafted bronze pieces designed for layering that made their debut to great fanfare on the catwalk with Ford’s Spring/Summer 2015 collection, and were subsequently shown at a cocktail party thrown at his Rodeo Drive boutique. Ahead of his game-changing decision to move his Fall/Winter 2015 runway show to L.A. (in lieu of London) last month, Ford dishes with Eisner on everything from 3 a.m. beauty disasters to the merits of being a little bit wicked, and why Los Angeles matters right now.


You’ve been friends for more than 20 years. How did you meet?

TOM FORD: We met in the South of France in the summer of 1994. We were staying there with friends and Lisa had rented a house nearby. She and Richard have been close for 30 years [now] and so we saw her often that summer.

LISA EISNER: Richard is an old friend of mine from when we were expats in Paris together. We just stayed in touch and that summer was the first time I met his boyfriend, Tom. We hit it off and then he sort of blew up at Gucci, and the rest is history!


How did this collaboration come about?

TF: Lisa arrived at my house in Santa Fe last summer totally decked out in her jewelry. I had seen a few other things that she had done but was completely awestruck by how developed her own style had become and how beautiful the pieces were. I immediately asked her if she could do a few pieces for my show.

LE: Tom has always been super supportive of me, almost like a family member. He’s always cheered me on. Of course I wanted to make jewelry that I thought he would love, and when I went to visit him and Richard, I piled it on and I think he liked it, so he asked me if I would do a little capsule line with him. After I picked myself up off the floor, of course I said yes. It’s almost as good as someone asking you to marry them!


“She makes me laugh. She is a great gossip and so am I, so when we are together we are pretty wicked.”

Is it a limited-edition or ongoing collection for Tom Ford?

TF: Not sure yet. Initially we thought it might be a one-time thing, but I am so in love with what she does that I am hoping to persuade her to perhaps keep doing special things for me.

LE: We are taking it slowly to see how it goes, but of course I want to.


How do you inspire each other?

TF: God, I am not sure that I inspire her at all but she definitely inspires me. Anyone who knows Lisa knows she is a true original. Everything she does she does her way. I love a woman who is sure of herself and has her own look and sense of style.

LE: He is so inspiring! Are you kidding? Every girl I know has a crush on Tom. He is so much fun to talk to. He’s always interesting, always real and never a slob—never! When people know Tom is going to be at dinner, they really gussy up. He raises the bar.


Describe each other’s style.

LE: Tom dresses the way movie stars are supposed to look.

TF: Well, Lisa is wacky and wild and chic and so, so original. There is just [no one] like her. She knows every single thing one could ever know about fashion history, has a great visual library in her head, and her eye really does not miss a trick.


Can you recall each other’s best or worst looks?

LE: No. He consistently looks amazing.

TF: Worst looks. Hmmmm. Well, we both used to drink too much so neither of us looked so great when we were being held up by the other at 3 a.m. Of course, our clothes were perfect, but I can’t say that our total “look” was really working.


What’s your favorite thing about each other?

TF: She makes me laugh. She is a great gossip and so am I, so when we are together we are pretty wicked.

LE: You can’t think of Tom without Richard. The two of them are very unique from each other, so you get two different people as one, and I love that. And now to see them with their son Jack…it’s crazy to see them as fathers. My kids are older now, so it’s a whole new experience watching them raise Jack and having a toddler around. He is so well behaved, and you can imagine what his closet looks like—he only wears little tiny Tom Ford suits. No, just kidding.


How often do you see each other?

TF: We live literally around the corner from each other in L.A., so we see each other a great deal. We have vacationed together for years, and Lisa and Eric were two of only eight people at our wedding, so I would say that we are very, very close.

LE: I make a trip to visit them in Santa Fe every summer. One of my favorites was when we went down the Salmon River in Idaho and camped out. It was so great. Prissy they are not!


You both have homes in Los Angeles. What is it about L.A. that’s holding the world’s attention right now?

TF: I have loved L.A. since I first moved here from New York in the early 1980s. Richard and I have had a home here and divided our time between L.A. and Europe for the past 20 years and have always felt a deep-rooted connection to the city. So many visuals in our world are filtered through Los Angeles, including music, television and film, and in this way it influences global fashion in a profound way.

LE: I would like to think I was an influence on them buying a house in L.A. so long ago. They did find an amazing [Richard] Neutra house overlooking the city. Tom has always loved L.A.; he lived here for a short time when he was acting, and hung out with David Hockney and knew [artist] Don Bachardy even back then. So it’s all come full circle, in a way. Then he shot A Single Man around L.A. and he was one of the first designers to embrace AIDS Project Los Angeles. He came here when no other designers were really considering even living here. And Hollywood has embraced him with open arms.

Lisa Eisner for Tom Ford, $1,200-$7,000; Tom Ford, 346 N. Rodeo Dr., B.H., 310-270-9440; tomford.com