Meet the Irish designer who made the gloves Madonna wears in her latest video

Paula Rowan is a luxury glove designer whose pieces have appeared in Vogue and on the cover of Grazia, as well as in the latest Madonna video. The Irish designer has a love of quality and fine detail, which define her approach to fashion and design. In conversation with Marie Kelly, she explains why she chose to design gloves, which designers she most admires and how she's crafted her own signature style.


We do so much with our hands; we hold, we touch, we even talk with our hands, so I’ve always felt they should be adorned. I like to think my gloves finish an outfit, but start a conversation. The tradition of glove-making had begun to die out, and it’s something I felt needed to be revived. All of my gloves are handmade in Naples, which is the historical capital of glove-making, by master craftsmen and women in family-run factories. There are 14 individual stages in the making process and each is done by hand.

Irish designer Paula Rowan in her Westbury Mall store

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I draw inspiration from anything that interests me – art, architecture, a scene from a movie, an elegantly dressed woman, what’s happening on the catwalk.

I admire Rick Owens for his ability to use both glamour and grunge in his designs, and Alexander McQueen, Roland Mouret and Azzedine Alaïa for their luxury tailoring, craftsmanship and impeccable detailing. Each has an innate understanding of the female form, which explains why their pieces are often like works of art or sculpture.

Like the gloves I design, my style is classic but with an edge. People often ask if I’m French or Italian, which I presume is a reflection of how I dress. I travel to Italy every other month, either to Naples or to meet clients in Milan, and I think there’s an element of osmosis that happens; I absorb the culture, ambience and style without realising it.

I do own a lot of classic pieces – tailored dresses, pencil skirts, palazzo and Capri pants, and I wear black most of the time, as it’s a perfect backdrop for my gloves. Whatever I wear I make sure it feels like it was made for me. Designers I love to wear include Rick Owens, Comme des Garçons and Balenciaga, all of which are stocked in 10 Corso Como in Milan, which also stocks my gloves.

Irish designer Paula Rowan's boutique can be found at Unit 31, Westbury Mall, Dublin 2, 01 674 6662. 

Portrait by Al Higgins. Holding shot courtesy of Instagram.

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