In a pandemic, wearing a pair of gloves as the finishing touch to your outfit has never seemed more relevant. By Gill Maccabe
When HM The Queen next dons a pair of gloves to attend a function, chances are they may have been created for her by Cornelia James, one of the hidden gems of the fashion industry. They may also have been treated with a revolutionary new virus repellent, which will help reduce the risk of Coronavirus.
She could, if wished, also use an ATM, text a friend and make a telephone call without removing her gloves if she asked for the touchscreen option.
The glove maker, who has been the designer of choice for The Queen since the first pair were created for her honeymoon and who received a royal warrant in 1978, has partnered with HeiQ Materials of Zurich to make their gloves anti-microbial.
According to the company: ‘All of our cotton and merino wool gloves are now enhanced with HeiQ Viroblock NPJO3. There is absolutely no effect on the appearance or feel of the gloves, but the Viroblock neutralises viruses and microbes, virtually on contact. You won’t pick up viruses and nor will you pass them on.’
In addition, they have enhanced existing touchscreen technology (usually a blob of metal on the thumb of a glove) and have hand embroidered delicate little stars onto the thumb and forefinger of their winter gloves, created from thread coated in pure silver which is an excellent conductor.
All this technology in a pair of gloves would have been inconceivable to young Cornelia who as a young art and design student in Vienna fled the Nazi Scourge in 1939 with little but a case full of colourful fabric. She set up business in London where ladies eager for a bit of glamour were happy to exchange up to two precious clothes coupons for a pair of Cornelia James gloves.
Cornelia became acquainted with Norman Hartnell who was commissioned to create Princess Elizabeth’s trousseau – and the rest is fashion history.
The Queen has worn the same style, a glove worn fairly high on the cuff with two points reaching down the side of the hand, since her honeymoon. She uses gloves for effect and is rarely seen without a pair, even when indoors at an investiture. The wave of the white gloved Royal hand has become an iconic gesture. The Duchess of Cambridge is also a huge fan and was recently seen wearing a pair of Cornelia James gloves at the socially distanced Remembrance Day Parade in November.
The small company is headquartered in East Sussex and Genevieve James, daughter of the founder – Austrian born Cornelia, is the creative director of the company. Tradition runs deep and the company is still using original machines by Singer, Pfaff and the less well known Hallet of Yeovil. They laboriously and with love and passion create gloves for every occasion and month of the British social calendar; opera, dinner, wedding, coming-out, staying in, skiing and walking using only the finest leather, suede, cotton, satin, net, velvet, merino and cashmere fabrics sourced from all around the world.
All that plus our neighbour in Jersey, author Peter James, is Cornelia’s son.
A hidden gem of the British fashion industry indeed.
The Cornelia James company now operates online and, naturally, delivers to Jersey. See www.corneliajames.com