Tonight Tom Ford strewed, no, caked his Fall runway in a carpet of white rose petals. It was a choice that harked back to the designer’s swan song at Gucci in 2004. The theatrics tonight, though, had decidedly happier origins: this season’s pre-Oscars decampment to L.A. “I’m showing to a roomful of entertainers,” Ford said postshow. “Of the 500 [guests], 270 were in the entertainment industry. I’d better give them some showmanship. I thought, It never snows in Los Angeles. Let’s make it snow rose petals.” And so the melee of Ford’s many A-list admirers gamely tromped through the blooms, skewering fat white stacks of petals on their stilettos and laughing all the while.

That carefree sense marked the clothes, too. They were, on the whole, more earthbound than the lacquered, pumped-up, and engineered styles that have so far defined his eponymous line. Yes, the bohemia that’s lately loomed so large in the Zeitgeist has permeated even Ford’s famously meticulous, precision-oriented mind (informed, too, by the designer’s Santa Fe upbringing. Quoth Tom: “Oh, wow, I kind of pulled something out of my childhood!”). There was a quiet craftiness to some of these pieces, like the macramé skirts, and even his eveningwear with its graphic, undulating prints. The opening trio of tiered frocks, with their puff sleeves and oversize knot-work necklaces, had a touch of Victoriana about them, but a bit of the prairie, too. Call it American: still glamorous but with a refreshing emphasis on wearability. A less quiet craftiness came from his denim skirts, patchworked together “like you did in the ’70s”—though how many of those came bearing glossy ocelot panels? Ford had plenty of fur here. Jennifer Lopez, sitting front row, was easy to imagine in a multitoned chevron style, although postshow she professed to be holding out for a simple white leather dress decked in curtains of fringe. Astute of Ford to do his version of dressed-down just in time for the Oscars.

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