The return of the opera glove
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“Shoes, hats, necklaces, belts: they’ve all had their moment in fashion, but it’s been a long time since gloves have,” says Dublin-based designer Paula Rowan, whose metallic leather gloves were featured in House of Gucci as well as in the SS22 collection of designer Maximilian Davis. Once mandatorily worn by women to signal one’s class and preserve modesty, today the Regency-era accessory is being thrust back into the spotlight, appearing in everything from Netflix’s Bridgerton to And Just Like That…, in which Carrie Bradshaw is seen flaunting a pair of bejewelled opera gloves that she uses “for elevator buttons and handrails”. Serena Williams wore a black lace pair with rings by Gucci at this year’s controversial Academy Awards.
Gloves are experiencing a revival on the catwalks too: at Saint Laurent, razor-sharp blazers were worn with leather racing gloves in punchy colours, while New York designer Rok Hwang paired cocktail dresses and skirt sets with opera-length styles in shades of hot pink, tangerine and royal blue. At Valentino’s recent couture show, strapless gowns were coupled with over-the-elbow styles, evoking the elegance of silver-screen sirens Grace Kelly and Rita Hayworth.
“They’re no longer an item just for cold winter days – they’ve been transformed into the ultimate statement piece,” says Hollie Harding, buying manager for non-apparel at Browns. For the perfect accessory to your “going out-out look”, she suggests cult London label Poster Girl’s red crystal-embellished cut-out lace gloves, or Marine Serre’s tattoo print Second Skin gloves, which “look great worn casually, layered with a jacket and jeans”.
For Rowan, whose gloves take between three to four months to make and range from classic driving styles (€80) to silk-lined, shoulder-skimming pieces adorned with ruffles and supersized bows (€4,200), wearing gloves has always been in vogue. “We use our hands for everything. We talk with our hands, we touch with our hands and if you look at the Italians, there’s a whole language with hands,” she says. “They’re so important, so why not embellish them?”