Richard Buckley dead: Tom Ford mourns his late husband

Richard Buckley, a fashion journalist and husband of designer and filmmaker Tom Ford, has died, Ford’s company confirmed Tuesday. He was 72.

“It is with great sadness that Tom Ford announces the death of his beloved husband of 35 years, Richard Buckley. Richard passed away peacefully at their home in Los Angeles Sunday night with Tom and their son Jack by his side,” a Ford representative said in a statement.

The fashion journalist died of natural causes after a prolonged illness.

Ford, 60, met Buckley, the former editor in chief of Vogue Hommes International, in an elevator at a fashion show in 1986, when the native Texan was 25 and the New Yorker was 38.

Before being named to head up Vogue Hommes in 1999, Buckley did stints at Women’s Wear Daily, Vanity Fair and Mirabella after getting his start at New York magazine in 1979.

A black-and-white portrait of a man with his hands on his chin.

An undated photo of fashion journalist Richard Buckley.

(Tom Ford)

“Our eyes locked, and within a month, we were living together,” Ford once said on the Jess Cagle Interview show via People about meeting Buckley. “We have been together ever since.”

Ford added, “By the time that elevator landed on the ground floor I thought, ‘You’re the one.’ That’s it. Click. Sold. It was literally love at first sight.”

The couple’s son, Alexander John Buckley Ford, was born in September 2012 via a surrogate.

Buckley and family had moved to Los Angeles in recent years, after Ford bought the estate of the late socialite Betsy Bloomingdale in 2016, though they reportedly kept their London residence as well.

The designer said in April 2014 that he and Buckley had gotten married in the U.S. Fourteen months later, a Supreme Court ruling would make same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states.

“Tom has seen me through so much, from throat cancer to my brother and mother dying 48 hours apart, to more bouts of pneumonia than I can count,” Buckley told the New York Times in 2019, noting that Ford had sewn him turtleneck wool dickeys with keyhole slits for his tracheotomy tube and a black silk scarf with slits to wear at formal events.

Ford wrote about their relationship in an essay for the “Love Issue” of Out magazine in 2011.

“One of the things that always amuses me — ‘amuses’ isn’t even the right word, because it doesn’t amuse me — but often,” Ford said in the essay, “I’m at dinner parties with very close friends, straight, and they realize that Richard and I have been together 24 years, and the response is often, ‘Wow, you guys have been together 24 years! That’s so amazing. I don’t think of gay men being together that long.’ And I’m, like, ‘Why? What are you talking about?’ Some of the longest relationships I know of are same-sex couples.”

He added, “Richard and I are bound together, and I think that’s what that recognition is when you look someone in the eyes and you feel like you’ve known them forever. It is a kind of coming home.”

By Tuesday morning, people from the fashion industry and those with ties to Los Angeles had shared personal stories about Buckley and their condolences on social media. Friends of Buckley described him as a man known for his curiosity, kindness, wit and style.

In his condolences on Instagram, Cameron Silver, owner of vintage store Decades on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles, wrote about how he met Buckley in 1997 shortly after Decades opened.

“He purchased a neon and black swirl ’60s dress on eyelash fabric,” Silver wrote. “Richard asked me lots of questions and was generally keen about why I had opened a vintage clothing store. ⁣Within a few days, Tom Ford had popped in and then Lisa Eisner. All explained that Richard had told them about this new vintage store on Melrose Avenue and the youngish guy who had opened it. ⁣Over the next few years, when I flew to Paris to shop for vintage or go to the flea markets, Richard would often accompany me.”

Silver went on to mention Buckley’s inquisitive nature and his spot-on design tastes. “I remember asking Richard about the furniture of Jacques Adnet and a desk I’d seen as I was naive to the value of the design,” he wrote. “Richard said, ‘Buy it’ and the desk now resides in the upstairs dressing room at Decades.”

Designer Rachel Zoe posted her condolences as well on Instagram, including a photo of Ford kissing Buckley’s cheek.

“We have lost such a beautiful and special soul, a gentleman of the greatest kind, Richard Buckley,” Zoe wrote. “To know him was an honor, to have had deep meaningful conversations with Richard was a gift I will hold tight forever. He was brilliant, witty, unapologetically honest and so very elegant. What was most extraordinary about Richard was his true love and dedication to Tom and as a father to his son Jack. I will miss you so very much Richard. May you Rest In Peace and with the angels friend”

Costume designer Arianne Phillips, who worked with Ford on his two feature films, “A Single Man” (2009), his directorial debut, and “Nocturnal Animals” (2016), posted a short message on Instagram, including the photo of Ford kissing Buckley: “a love like this rest easy beautiful elegant friend #RichardBuckley

In an Instagram post, designer Zac Posen described Buckley as a class actin the old school way. He had a keen eye, an excellent sense of humor, and was whip smart.

“He was the most loving and supportive partner to Tom,” Posen wrote. “It was such a beautiful thing to witness. I always felt a huge sense of relief over the past 20 years when I would see Richard and Tom. He loved and appreciated real glamour, style and class. He always checked in with me about my career, life and, of course, who I was going to be dressing for the Oscars. His honesty, perspective and care was a real rarity. I will miss Richard a lot. My deepest condolences to Tom and family.”

Glynis Costin, West Coast bureau chief of Instyle magazine, shared her memories of Buckley on Instagram along with a photo from the early ’90s of herself, Ford and Buckley in Milan, Italy.

“I am devastated that the world has lost the wonderful Richard Buckley,” she wrote. “He was a gentleman and a scholar with a quick wit and wry sense of humor. He was a kind and loyal friend and a great all-around human. I cherish our friendship of more than 30 years and my heart goes out to Tom and Jack. Richard, we know your [mischievous] blue eyes are still twinkling somewhere and your spirit will be with us always.”

Times deputy features editor Marques Harper contributed to this report.