Following on from the first post in a series about accessories in films, I thought I’d focus this time on gloves. Today, they are mainly worn to ward off the cold but on screen, they can add a touch of class, something menacing as worn by the criminal, or even represent something rather fetishistic. I’ve put together a few of my favourites, but please let me know if you have any other suggestions in the comments.
Few films feature gloves quite this memorably. This cult scene with Rita Hayworth singing ‘Put the blame on Mame’, dressed in a satin strapless dress designed by Jean-Louis (inspired by Sargent’s scandalous ‘Madame X’) becomes the ultimate seduction when she peels off one of her long satin gloves and eventually throws it to the crowd as a kind of striptease. That and the line, “I’ve never been very good with zippers” were as racy as you could get in the days of the Hays Code.
To Catch A Thief
Whenever I think of Grace Kelly, I always think of her elegant accessories – sunglasses, her famous handbag and those white gloves. She’s the epitome of elegance and Cary Grant simply can’t take his eyes off her in Hitchcock’s ‘To Catch a Thief’ as she drives. When designer Edith Head visited Paris with Grace Kelly before shooting started to pick out accessories and jewellery, Hermès was their favourite stop for gloves as Grace believed they sold the best and they fell in love in everything they saw. I’m not especially keen on cars but each time I see this film, I long to own a convertible and get myself the most elegant pair of driving gloves.
In Bertolucci’s masterpiece, Jean-Louis Trintignant plays a man seeking to find status and acceptance in society who joins the Italian fascist party and is sent to Paris to assassinate his former anti-fascist professor. Sexually confused and full of ambiguities, he wears his black assassin’s gloves in order to make up for his lack of willpower and commitment. In one of the most disturbing scenes, we see Dominique Sanda’s terrified face and a single black glove pressed against the glass.
And who could forget the murderer’s gloves in Hitchcock’s chilling film?
The Gaspar Gloves as worn by Ryan Gosling’s nameless driver in Nicolas Winding Refn’s film caused quite a stir a few years ago, along with the jackets and boots. Described by the Los Angeles Times as “Louboutin stilettos for your hands,”they are androgynous accessories designed for women but worn with great style by one of the coolest actors around.
Gloves play an important part in an early scene of Todd Haynes’ gorgeous film when Cate Blanchett’s Carol leaves them on the counter of a department store, giving the young assistant, Therese, an excuse to see her again to return them. One of the most achingly sensual and elegant expressions of desire in film I have ever seen.
La Belle et la Bête
And to finish, Jean Cocteau’s magical masterpiece in which Belle is given a magic glove which will take her wherever she wishes. Later on, they are worn in one of the most heartbreaking scenes. His version of Beauty and the Beast is haunting and poetic in a way that no Disney version can even approach.