My studio overlooks the beach at Monkstown. When I open my window I am serenaded by the sound of the waves. I find the colours, shapes and sounds of the sea to be bewitching and inspiring. I often design late at night, when it’s quieter. I have an office at the back of the house, which I never use because the view is so beautiful from the living room in my second-floor apartment in this old early Victorian property.
This is where I was when I created the classic design on which my gloves, seen in the movie House of Gucci, were based. It’s a fashion feast of a movie, shot in Italy. So for an Irish designer to be chosen was a huge delight and honour for me. They used 25 pairs in the film in gold, metallic, pink and leather. There are really big brands involved in this — Chanel, Burberry, Sandro, Gucci — and then there’s me. They sent the gloves back to me after the filming had finished so I have them here.
To celebrate the House of Gucci movie, I treated myself to a vintage watch in Adam’s auction rooms. It’s a 1970s classic design and the craftmanship and delicate detail are impeccable. I don’t believe in saving things for special days — if it’s beautiful, wear it every day and enjoy it.
What I surround myself with is really important to me. Anything I have in my home I absolutely love. I think that’s part of being a creative person. You surround yourself with beautiful things because you need to be inspired.
I have a painting in oils of Bulloch Harbour by Mark P Cullen, an artist who collaborated with me on a range of scarves. The paint is running down the canvas: you just want to touch it. I have always lived in Dublin and I love it here. The sea walk from Blackrock to Killiney is a regular part of my day. It clears my head and fills it with the beauty that is around me.
I have three work spaces: my home, my shop in Dublin city centre and Naples, where I work with several factories on the production of my gloves. Naples has soul and grit. It’s like stepping back in time. My gloves are made in very traditional, family-run businesses. Shears and sewing machines are the tools of the trade rather than big industrial machines. For maybe 30 seconds I can get the smell of leather. Then I am hit by the sound of the scissors cutting through the leather on the cold marble slabs, the sound of vintage Singer sewing machines, and the richness and variety of the colours in the leather room. All the senses are heightened.
The days are intense as we have a lot to discuss. I work between the office, the leather room and the factory floor. After discussing my designs and ideas I choose colours for sampling and then work with the craftsmen.
I tend to pick up bits and pieces on my travels. I collect antique glove stretchers and I have about 25 of them. Glove stretchers were used to ease tight gloves, especially kid ones. Some of mine are silver, some wood, some embossed, some engraved with initials. My favourite is an early Victorian sterling silver one I bought in the Navigli market on the banks of the canal in Milan. To me they represent what I do in a tangible way, but also in the mix of practical and beautiful. I love to trawl the markets when I visit Europe. It’s all about the beauty and stories behind vintage objects.
Deep down I always knew I would work in a creative field. I had always been drawing, and making clothes, stitching and sewing when I was younger. Making and crafting comes very naturally to me, but I wanted to broaden my education so I studied history and classics at University College Dublin. After I graduated I studied interior design as I wanted to do something creative.
It was when I was trying to source interesting, quality gloves and couldn’t that I decided to design my own. I worked with my brother for many years in his leather business and when an opportunity arose to buy it in 2006, I jumped at the chance.
I started my glove business on September 15, 2008 — the day Lehman Brothers went out of business. My shop is in the Westbury Mall overlooking Clarendon Street. It has large windows so I often people-watch. I particularly observe hand movements. As a glove designer I am fascinated by hands: how we use them to communicate, the language our hands speak.
I started with a very small collection and now, 13 years later, I have been lucky enough to have been on the cover of Vogue and in many international glossy editorials. Kendall Jenner and Lady Gaga have worn my gloves in Vogue. Madonna, Naomie Harris, Julianne Moore, Ruth Negga, Helen Mirren and Paloma Faith have also worn them. I still get a huge kick from seeing people wearing my gloves, whether it’s on the catwalk, on the street or in a magazine.
By Rose Costello, Times UK