Tom Ford's Secret To Joining The Fashion Billionaire's Club? Fail. A Lot.

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Tom Ford is poised to enter that elite group of fashion high rollers whose fortune adds up to an incomprehensible $1 billion. How did he reach these lofty financial heights? By failing a lot—and by flogging the odd Andy Warhol painting he had knocking around. In a fascinating two-part interview with Business of Fashion, Tom spills on the secrets to his success. “I thrive on failure. I thrive on things that are not perfect. It sends me back into the ring to get it right,” he said.

His spring '12 show was comprehensively panned by critics, with Le Figaro's Virginie Mouzat using choice phrases such as a “nightmare” and “old-fashioned” in her review. While it has become standard for designers to lash out at this kind of harsh criticism (a la Jean Paul Gaultier and Oscar de la Renta), Tom took it all in his stride.

“I agree with her that it was a terrible collection. It was probably the worst collection that I have ever done. It was a terrible, terrible show,” he admitted.

Things seem to be going in the right direction given that Tom —who sold his Andy Warhol self-portrait for $32.6 million in 2010 to help finance his label—is about to become fashion's newest billionaire.

“By early 2014, if we continue to meet our business plan, we will hit one billion dollars [a year] at retail of Tom Ford products,” he said. “That’s all the products together: eyewear, fragrance, cosmetics, ready-to-wear, men’s and women’s accessories. A billion dollars of product with the label Tom Ford on it will be selling at retail.” Maybe it's time we got around to creating that luxury empire...