Tom Ford "couldn't have gone on much longer" at Gucci.
The designer - who was creative director at the brand, which included Yves Saint Laurent, from 1994 until he left in 2004 when he and CEO Domenico de Sole failed to agree with PPR bosses over creative control - revealed he became "isolated" and felt "enormous pressure" at the group.
He said: "With the work at Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent I couldn't have gone on much longer because I was designing 16 collections a year and I was the vice-chairman of the company and was working in the acquisitions committee, bringing in Stella McCartney and buying all these different brands and designing collections.
"There was enormous pressure and you have to be very strong. And you become isolated. Even though I really helped build Gucci from nothing to where it was, well, as that happened you become isolated because you're like a racehorse.
"People just say: 'Keep 'em happy! Keep 'em happy!' because they want you to keep working. They want to get more out of you. You need to perform, perform, perform."
Tom insisted he relates to strain due to his experiences at Gucci, which saw him employ the late fashion designer Alexander McQueen, who committed suicide last year after reportedly facing pressure at work and being "overwhelmed with grief" at the loss of his mother.
He added to Time out Hong Kong: "I do understand that pressure, because I used to have it at Gucci.
"If you have a bad collection and it's reviewed badly and it's not selling the pride and the whole company drops and you feel responsible for it."