By Eric Wilson
Updated Feb 21, 2015 @ 1:31 pm
tom ford
Credit: Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic (3), Gregg DeGuire/WireImage

Eric Wilson is InStyle's fashion news director. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

Where’s Beyoncé?

Scanning the famous faces in the front row of Tom Ford’s fantastic, frenetic, fabulous, and somewhat trippy, fashion show in Los Angeles on Friday night, I couldn’t spot her. There were so many celebrities that it was like trying to pick Waldo out of one of those jigsaw puzzles. On one side of the runway sat Sir Elton John, Amy Adams, Miley Cyrus, Jennifer Lopez, Fergie, Rita Ora; on the other were Julianne Moore, Gwyneth Paltrow, Naomi Campbell, Cody Horn, Anjelica Huston, Olivia Munn, and Reese Witherspoon.

tom ford front row
Credit: Michael Tran/WireImage

And the Oscar for best runway turnout goes to… Tom Ford, obviously. But still, there was no sign of Beyoncé or Jay Z, and I had noticed their place cards at the check-in stand more than an hour earlier.

But let me back up to the beginning.

tom ford
Credit: Michael Tran/WireImage

Guests arriving for the event, held at Milk Studios here on the start of a very busy Oscars weekend, were greeted by four handsome men in black suits, with silk scarves tied around their necks. The cocktail hour was a chance for Ford’s fans to compare notes on how much they love him, and Moore, the front-runner for this year’s best actress award, said that was a lot. She wore a sequined long-sleeve top and a short camo skirt from his spring collection, in that perfect shade of Tom Ford green that suits her so well. Even her clutch, a furry little thing, was green, and also designed by Ford.

“He always makes me feel very taken care of,” Moore said. “When Tom makes a dress for you, it’s for you.”

Her love for Ford, for whom she starred in A Single Man, is so great, in fact, that you might wonder if she will be wearing him once again at the Oscars. So I had to put her on the spot. What will she be wearing?

“I have no idea,” she said, pulling my leg.

“Of course, I have a dress,” she said. “I’m not a seat-of-the-pants kind of girl.”

Many of the guests wore Ford creations from previous seasons, including from his Gucci archives. Miley Cyrus wore a long, but sheer, black gown from his fall 2011 collection. Jennifer Lopez wore a spring 2014 mini-corset dress with knee-high boots. Scarlett Johansson was in a gold dress from this year’s pre-fall collection that fit her like a superhero costume.

“It’s from his gold vault,” Johansson said. “It looks like a second skin, and it feels like a second skin. It’s surprisingly comfortable.”

Witherspoon wore a short black embroidered lace dress, season unknown, but she said she was just glad to have Ford showing in L.A. “It says a lot about how much he influences Hollywood fashion, and vice versa,” she said.

Indeed, Ford has long been influenced by film, and as the party moved onto the runway, it was obvious that he had crafted a stage with the same precision he has demonstrated as a director. The runway was covered in white rose petals, with a mirrored backdrop and a combination of banquettes and traditional seating, like a supper club. His fall collection opened with a series of monochromatic dresses with tiered peplums, pinched shoulders and long sleeves, and then below-the-knee skirts of bright patterns, animal prints, and denim patchwork, and fur coats with swooping patterns. A white dress with rows of fringe over black boots looked incredible in motion, as were the puzzle-piece dresses boldly patterned with retro prints. During the finale, rose petals fluttered from the ceiling, so many in fact, that guests wearing stilettos, as they walked out, speared them on their heels.

tom ford runway
Credit: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images (3)

One influence was very specific, a moment in the early 1970s when the hippie look became more streamlined and clean, “like Ali MacGraw when she was married to Bob Evans,” Ford told me after the show. “She was a little bohemian, but it was controlled and neat.”

Control is key to Ford. Everything from the music, blending Justin Timberlake with a Hitchcock score at this show, was designed to convey just a bit more of the season’s story, which was conceived and created in London, but with Los Angeles in mind. Lisa Eisner, the L.A.-based artist and designer, was on his mind. So was the editor Carine Roitfeld. When he landed in Los Angeles a few days earlier, he wondered for a moment what the largely entertainment industry audience would make of his black dresses and rich bohemian looks. “But in the end, I did what I really felt was right,” he said.

The late arrival of Beyoncé and Jay Z, alas, was out of his control. Although they missed most of the show, she appeared on the runway after most people had left, offering congratulations, and wearing a long black crystal mosaic dress from his spring 2014 show.

jay z beyonce tom ford
Credit: Tom Ford via Getty Images