Fashion Week

Why the opera glove revival just won't quit

Posted by
Anna Pollitt
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Once the preserve of red carpet-goers and avant-garde pop stars, they’re now a prolific accessory at Fashion Month.

For a few seasons, the world’s biggest fashion labels have been aggressively pushing long gloves in myriad forms, including metallic leather, black patent, bright florals, transparent lace and even pink rubber - Marigolds style. This season was no different, with ruffled takes showing up at Haider Ackerman, long black armpit-skimming versions at Balmain and Motocross-styles at Off White, to name but a few. 

Haider Ackermann

Propped up by a long and varied history, long gloves ultimately fell out of favour in the ‘90s, though not, of course, by the Queen. Now, entirely impractical in a smartphone age, they’re like the equivalent of a gastric band to digital over-indulgers. Fingerless and touch screen styles could solve the problem but of course we’re talking closed-fingered, fine materials; ultimate constriction. 

Long gloves are about signifying everyday decadence with a cool, almost villainous edge. They’re worn with rolled-up sleeves rather than off-the-shoulder ballgowns. “Evening” or “opera” gloves reimagined for the office and the pub.

Street stylers and celebrities are paying heed to the trend, with Caroline Daur wearing them faithfully across all four fashion weeks and Sita Abellan, Caroline Vreeland and the Hadid sisters all working the look.

Caroline Daur at Paris Fashion Week

hadid sisters

Bella and Gigi Hadid

Vika Gazinskaya at Paris Fashion Week

Sita Abellan at Paris Fashion Week

Once co-opted by the rich to signal their wealth, it’s somewhat ironic then that while long gloves are a current favourite among fashion influencers, it’s a struggle to find a decent pair under £200 online.

Despite the fun to be had with this hot fashion accessory, designers are shouting into the void when it comes to a runway-to-retail influence. Perhaps long gloves will trickle down to the likes of Zara and Topshop after the latest round of shows, or maybe the impracticality of not being able to use a phone when you’re elbow-deep in patent means the high street resistance will continue. 

Sandra Hagelstam at London Fashion Week

In the meantime, the relative exclusivity of long gloves existing in the fashion world is likely to see the trend proliferate, so get used to seeing fewer manicures and more covered up forearms on the fashion faithful in your Insta feed.

We did manage to track down a few options online, mostly from specialist glove retailers and a heavily discounted designer pair at Far Fetch:

Dents long lace evening gloves

Take inspiration from the showgoers at Fashion Week and wear these with rolled-up sleeves and wide-legged trousers.

Dents long lace evening gloves, £20

Karl x Kaia long studded gloves

Add a touch of rock chic to a belted trench.

Karl Lagerfeld Karl x Kaia long studded gloves, £83

Dents evening devore gloves

Caroline Vreeland wore a not dissimilar pair to Kenzo. Enough said. 

Dents evening devore gloves, £20

Black long satin gloves

Wear with a cape coat a la Balmain, or a baggy jumpsuit with shoved-up sleeves, as seen at Off White.

Black.co.uk long black satin gloves, £49

Fashion Week Images: Getty

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Anna Pollitt

Anna is a freelance writer and editor who’s been making her dime from online since 2007. She’s a regular at Stylist.co.uk, ITV News and Emerald Street and moonlights as a copywriter and digital content consultant.

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