You’ve heard it before: Betty Draper, the Hitchcock blonde from the US television series Mad Men, wears a sumptuous piece of 1960s clothing on screen and, before you can even utter “suppressed housewife”, the trend has infected the high street, and from there moved on to pretty much everyone you know.
It happened with the hourglass silhouette. It happened with full skirts. And this season, it is happening with full-length gloves.
Uh-huh. You heard that right: opera gloves. Get ready for your aria.
“In the last few weeks, we have seen unprecedented demand for leather gloves,” says Sarah Curran, chief executive of retail website my-wardrobe.com. “Elbow-length and coloured styles are the most popular; top sellers include Diane von Furstenberg and Paul Smith, and we have waiting lists for Moschino. They’re often teamed with a bracelet-sleeve winter coat, scarf and a tote bag that complements the colour of the gloves.”
And the gleam of gloves has not been lost on designers. At Yves Saint Laurent, long black satin gloves were twinned with emerald satin party dresses on the runway; at Dries Van Noten they came under rolled-up shirt sleeves; at Alexander Wang they appeared with plain black shifts; and at Lanvin, leather dresses were mirrored by long leather gloves. Marc Jacobs offered a double whammy – twinning his wasp-waist dress with ruched gloves in gun metal grey at Louis Vuitton, and his daydresses with pale silk gloves at his eponymous mainline collection.
According to London designer Roksanda Ilincic, whose autumn collection featured asymmetric cocktail dresses in jewel colours worn with leather elbow gloves (£350), “I have been using long gloves in almost all of my winter collections; they finish off the look and give that final polish to the person who is wearing them.”
As far as eveningwear is concerned, the very act of pulling long gloves on – and slowly taking them off – has become part of the overall spectacle.
Amanda Scott, head of accessories at department store John Lewis, where glove sales are up 78 per cent compared with the same period last year, says: “They are appealing to women who want to add an extra layer of intrigue to an outfit. Peeling off leather gloves on arrival somewhere has now become a ritual, that communicates polish and elegance.”
“Longer gloves are feminine and elegant, not to mention practical for the winter months,” adds Alessandro Pellone, owner of the Italian luxury glove brand Gala Gloves, who thinks ruching and zip details will feature heavily on gloves this season.
“There is something very elegant and sexy about long leather gloves and they work really well with this season’s trend for wearing capes,” notes Deborah Moore, creative director of Dents, the British leather accessories brand. “We have been taking orders from all over the world.”