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Saturday, January 18, 2014

Perfumed Gloves

In the 13th century, ladies started wearing gloves as accessories to their high fashion ensembles. These fashionable accessories were made up of silk or linen and sometimes reached to the elbow.

However, such worldly accoutrements were not for holy women, according to the early thirteenth-century Ancrene Wisse, written for their guidance. As a result, sumptuary laws were promulgated to restrain this vanity: against samite gloves in Bologna, 1294, against perfumed gloves in Rome, 1560.

A corporation or guild of glovers (gantiers) existed from the thirteenth century in Paris, where gloves were called gants. They made their gants in skin or in fur.

In the 16th century, gloves were all the rage. Queen Elizabeth I herself set the fashion for wearing them richly embroidered with gold and studded with jewels.

A Glossary, Or Collection of Words, Phrases, Names, and Allusions ..., Volume 1, 1901:
"The continuator of Stowe tell us that "The queene [Elizabeth] had a payre of perfumed gloves, trimmed onlie with foure tuftes or roses of culler'd silke. The queene took such pleasure in those gloves, that she was pictured with those gloves upon her hands."

The Earl of Oxford, Edward Vore, brought her a pair of perfumed gloves as a present from Italy and she immediately made him one of her favorites and she had her portrait painted wearing them. She also is credited as the first to use them to draw attention to her beautiful hands by putting them on and taking them off during audiences. And at New Year's, Good Queen Bess always received pairs of perfumed gloves. Spanish ladies of' the 1500's wore perfumed gloves known as "sweete " when appearing in court.

Thou more than most sweet glove
 Unio my most sweet love
Suffer me to store with kisses
This empty lodging that now misses
The pure rosie hand that ware thee
Whiter than the kid that bare thee
Thou art soft but that was softer
Cupid's self bath kist it ofter
Than ere he did his mother's doves
Supposing her the queen of loves
That was thy mistress, best of gloves
-Witts Interpr p 311

In Paris, the gantiers became "gantiers parfumeurs". They perfumed gloves with various scented oils, the animalic musk, ambergris and civet, which were first mixed with fatty base that was smeared inside the gloves, this served not only to perfume the gloves but to soften the hands of the wearer as well. Some of these early gloves were scented with frangipani essential oil and were known as Frangipani Gloves.

Their trade, which was an introduction at the court of Catherine de Medici, was not specifically recognized until 1656, in a royal brevet. Catherine de Medici, had an official fashion a pair of gloves, that were not only perfumed but were also poisoned. She presented them as a gift to the mother of Henry IV. Other accused poisoners were the Queen of Navarre and Gabrielle d'Estrees.

When Anne of Austria died. in 1666, a part of her legacy was 300 pairs of perfumed gloves.
Shakespeare made mention of perfumed gloves in his writings. Hero says to Beatrice" Those gloves the count sent me, they are of an excellent perfume."

In 1949, designer and perfumer, Marcel Rochas introduced pink kid gloves scented with roses so that women could spread the sweet fragrance with a flick of the finger. They were said to be perfumed during the tanning process. They could be re-perfumed after cleaning with with a a glove shaped paper blotter "refill". Other colors that were available were white, blue, chartreuse, all printed with a black lace pattern, a symbol of Marcel Rochas, each color glove  perfumed with its own scent.

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