Уважаемые читатели, позвольте предложить вашему вниманию лекцию о перчатках, которую написал и прочитал для сотрудников универмага Harrods Альберто Мерола, глава компании Merola Gloves. Насколько я знаю, эта лекция нигде больше не публиковалась. Не пугайтесь слова “лекция” – на самом деле это небольшой и интересный рассказ об истории перчаток, хитростях их изготовления, ну и о самой компании Merola – куда же без этого! Рассказ от человека, “болеющего” за своё дело, что всегда интересно.
Обычно я перевожу статьи других авторов на русский язык, но в этот раз решил оставить всё как есть. Текст очень простой, а ссылку на оригинал дать нельзя – по причине отсутствия последнего (до этой публикации) в открытом доступе.
Lecture on Gloves
Ladies and Gentlemen, good morning.
Before starting by brief presentation on the wonderful world of gloves, please allow me to thank Miss Eleanor for having given me the opportunity to do so. I would also like you to excuse me for my limited command of the English language but I will do my best.
I am particularly pleased to be here in London today. London is one of the main world economic centres and a key reference point for manufacturers from every continent; new trends often start here, it is also the barometer of global economic activity.
Here we are today talking about gloves and their unexpected return into the limelight, of a newfound desire to own them, functional, comfortable yet at the same time elegant, the last bastion of an exclusive craft that is entirely hand made.
Much more so than ties, gloves have been present in man’s life from the earliest civilisations to the present day.
The Egyptians were amongst the first to use gloves and the Greeks and Romans followed, however they were rarely used as an elegant accessory but more often as a symbol, full of meaning.
Gloves were a symbol of investiture, a sign of domination, recognition of an important charge or as credentials for Emperors, Kings, Bishops or Ambassadors as depicted by archeological finds in paintings of the Second and Third Century before Christ or in the immortal verses of the great poets.
The symbolism of gloves reaches its peak in the Middle Ages; gloves form part of the Feudal Chivalry ritual, thereafter they were also used to challenge an adversary to a duel by slapping him in the face with one or to show ones displeasure by throwing one on the floor. Women are first seen wearing them in the 9th Century and they were made either of silk or wool with fur edging and fastened with 3 buttons.
From the 13th Century onwards gloves are in common use, and Italian glove making is immediately recognized for its flair and choice of ornamentation; great refinement went hand in hand, excuse the pun, with intrigue that was rife in that period. For the next 2 centuries the titled classes competed amongst themselves by commissioning rare and precious handcrafted items of clothing including gloves, which frequently had to be scented with the owners’ perfume and in a few cases were also laced with poison. Gold filaments, rare furs, precious stones, intarsias and decorations were frequently used to adorn gloves until the French Revolution. How different they were to the long and transparent gloves worn by women at the time of the French Directory which permitted a glimpse of the ladies’ bare arms, a sign that times and customs were changing. By the end of the 19th century gloves had become part of the social revolution, empowered middle class gentlemen now wore yellow gloves during the daytime and white gloves and “tails” in the evening. Women wore half gloves made of wool and cotton that were also worn in the home. From hereon gloves also take on a functional role in protecting the wearer from the cold. However they play a role in the code of conduct of those times by also shielding the wearer from inappropriate skin contact during salutations. All in a Society that pretended or believed itself to be politically correct.
From the beginning of the 20th Century and for the next 50 years gloves were an essential component, a must if you will, of gentlemen and ladies wardrobes irrespective of seasons. The inter-war years saw the most incredible artistic and handcrafted creations as never seen before, once again stimulated by the desires of the upper classes. During those years the most exotic skins were used such as: peccary, astrakhan lamb and ostrich which are still with us today; particular attention was also paid to the way the skins were cut, the stitch details and of course the overall exquisite handicraft. A myriad of colours were to be found in a wide choice of skins: from the finest baby goat and the softest chamois to gazelle and antelope to name but a few. There was no shortage of highly skilled labour as indeed there was a strong demand for gloves worldwide; cutters and seamstresses earned good money; the glove world was prosperous and dignified, particularly in Italy where it assured a secure source of income for the families that were involved; given that it is craft rather than industry and machining is limited to a few operations.
The manufacturing process starts with the piece of leather being stretched in three directions by the craftsman who then individually cuts by hand the piece of leather according to the style and size of the gloves required. Once this process is completed the shaped and cut rectangles of leather are passed on to the seamstress who hand sews the gussets on the side of each finger and places the thumb pieces in their opening and sews them to the main body of each glove. Should the gloves require a lining they will then be passed on to the liner who will insert the seamlessly knitted lining (in silk or cashmere) and anchor it by stitching a narrow trim of leather on the edge of the glove. The final process is the shaping of the gloves this is carried out on electrically heated hand forms that set the end shape.
As with everything that is hand made, and particularly with the different processes and various craftsmen involved, the occasional small imperfection due to human error does arise; a small blemish on the skin may go unnoticed but an open seam should not. This absolute attention to detail approaching perfection has been the hallmark of the Merola family since 1870, the year they entered the wonderful world of gloves from the equally an artisan world of manufacturers of horse drawn carriages. Around 1920 Merola Gloves enters its golden period which reached its peak towards the end of that decade culminating with the family owning 11 shops, a manufacturing workshop and a tannery in Italy and a thriving export business. However, Merola Gloves like many other enterprises was badly hit by the Wall Street crash, to add to its woes the advent of autarchy under Mussolini made things very difficult and the outbreak of World War II only made things worse. By the end of the war Merola Gloves was a shadow of its former self, yet the family patiently set about reestablishing itself as a leading player in the glove world. During the last 30 years Merola Gloves has managed to return to the forefront, orders from the most prestigious retailers and famous brands in the world have confirmed its rightful place in the wonderful world of gloves. It is with great pride that we can state that all the European Royal Families as well as many Presidents and Prime Ministers have been supplied by Merola Gloves, from the House of Windsor in the UK to the House of Bourbon in Spain, from the Emperor of Japan to all the Presidents of the US of the last 3 decades!
Our craft has followed the evolution of fashion, taste, customs and events. In the last 60 years Merola Gloves has supplied the film industry, the theatre, television, and opera; either from a remake of an archive pattern or from a contemporary style; who can ever forget the subtle eroticism of Rita Hayworth’s full length gloves in Gilda or the exquisitely feminine shorties worn by Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday to the more recent ones worn by Kate Winslett in Titanic or by Nicholas Cage in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin or indeed by Richard Butler in the remake of the Phantom of the Opera.
Today, as with ties, gloves are no longer an essential component of one’s wardrobe, however unlike ties, for many of us they still have a functional role giving us warmth, comfort and why not a certain style! Who knows maybe it is transmitted from generation to generation through our DNA, whatever it is, let us wish the wonderful world of gloves continued success in the 3rd millennium.