Six months ago, Tom Ford put on one hell of a fashion show. In Los Angeles on the eve of the Oscars, it was as starry as these things come. Renée Zellweger, who would pick up her Best Actress Award two nights later, had a prime spot midway down the mirrored runway; and arrayed around her were the likes of J.Lo and A-Rod, Miley Cyrus, Jason Momoa, and Jon Hamm.

We all know what happened next. COVID-19 shut down fabric mills, ateliers, sample rooms, corporate offices—the whole shebang. In the press notes he distributed today, Ford wrote, “I honestly wasn’t sure I could make a collection even if I felt inspired to do so…I felt that fashion should simply go into hibernation for a year.” Of course, that would never do. Ford is the rare designer who knows what his woman wants before she does. The collection he put on the runway back in February was loaded with athletic gray sweats and DIY’d jeans—exactly the kind of glam casual things that his customer might have liked to wear through quarantine. And she may just get her chance: Dr. Fauci has warned us to hunker down for the fall and winter.

Projecting into next year is the job at hand here. And what his gut told Ford to do when he got back to work this summer after months of isolation was to go with hope. “The last thing I want to see are serious clothes,” he says. “I think we need an escape. I think we want to smile. I know what’s going on in our world right now doesn’t make us want to smile. So that’s what I’ve done: hopeful clothes that make you smile.”

Ford found the conduit for those vibes in a documentary about the fashion illustrator Antonio Lopez and the ’70s models Pat Cleveland and Donna Jordan whom Lopez sketched. That this is the era that he mined with such gusto and so much success during his Gucci heyday isn’t happenstance. Ford lived it as a young Texas transplant in New York. Who among us in this horrible year hasn’t fantasized about their own carefree youth?

This is an extrovert’s collection, with plenty of skin and very little pretense. There’s a compelling ease to the clothes, even though the attitude is dressed up. Shirts are unbuttoned to the navel, conjuring the spring 1995 Gucci show that started it all for him, and pants are pull-on with a discrete but unmistakable logo waistband. The colorful florals seen on several slinky dresses and a pair of neat blazers for women are cheering. Ditto the tie-dyed caftan and pool robes that accompany body-baring white bikinis. But the collection’s biggest takeaway are the guys’ flower-print pants. They were a hit in 1999, inspiring countless knockoffs, and they’ll do it again in 2021. Does that sound optimistic? Well, isn’t that the point?