Open main menu

Cornelia James (11 March 1917 – 10 December 1999) was a British glovemaker and businesswoman of Austrian origin, and the founder of the firm of glovemakers that bears her name.

Cornelia James
Cornelia James (glovemaker).jpg
Cornelia James at work
Cornelia Katz

11 March 1917
Vienna, Austria
Died10 December 1999
Hove, Sussex, England
EducationVienna Academy of Fine Arts
Known forfounder of Cornelia James
Spouse(s)Jack James
ChildrenPeter James, Genevieve Lawson


Early lifeEdit

Cornelia James was born Cornelia Katz in Vienna on 11 March 1917,[1] the eldest of seven children of a family who ran a chain of grocery shops and a cold storage business.[2]

She left Vienna in 1939, immediately after having finished studying fashion design at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts (the same college that rejected Adolf Hitler).[3] She left for Paris and then London, with "a suitcase full of the coloured leather".[3]


Katz arrived in London a refugee but soon set up in business making gloves. In 1947, she was asked by the dress designer Norman Hartnell to make the "going-away" gloves for the then Princess Elizabeth to take on her honeymoon, following her impending marriage to Prince Philip,[4] and she made several pairs for the Princess's trousseau. Thus began her long association with the British royal family.[3] Fellow royal couturier Hardy Amies also appreciated her colourful designs.[1] In 1948, she became known as "the Colour Queen of England" after launching her leather gloves range in 100 different shades.[1]

Her first workshop was on Davigdor Road in Hove, near Brighton, and was established by 1947.[2] The business peaked in the 1950s, when she was known as "the Queen's favourite glovemaker"[2] and had between 250[3] and 500[2] workers in her factory in a former dairy in Brighton; but the popularity of wearing fashion gloves declined.[3] Her products were still popular with royalty, though, and Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, the Princess Royal and Diana, Princess of Wales all wore her gloves—as did members of the Belgian, Dutch and Swedish royal families.[2] The firm of Cornelia James finally became Royal Warrant holders in 1979,[2][5] and they are the Queen's official glovemaker.[6]

In a 2012 interview with The Telegraph, Cornelia James admitted that Lady Di used her gloves a lot to hide her bitten nails.[7]

Personal lifeEdit

On arriving in London, she had hoped to get a United States visa, but met Jack Burnett James and married him six weeks later in 1940 (although she had been engaged before leaving Vienna).[1][2] Their son Peter James (born 1948) is a best-selling writer of crime fiction. Their daughter, Genevieve Lawson, runs Cornelia James.[6][8]


Cornelia James died at the Martlets Hospice in Hove, Sussex, England, on 10 December 1999. She had been an active supporter of the hospice and other charities throughout her time in Sussex.[1][2]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e Stapleton, Gwen (20 December 1999). "Obituary: Cornelia James". The Independent. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Middleton, Judy (2002). The Encyclopaedia of Hove & Portslade. 8. Brighton: Brighton & Hove Libraries. p. 9.
  3. ^ a b c d e Fowler, Susanne (23 November 2014). "Gloves Fit for a Queen, With Hands-On Craftsmanship". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
  4. ^ "Cornelia James, About Us". Retrieved 18 January 2016.
  5. ^ "Cornelia James Ltd | Royal Warrant Holders Association". Retrieved 18 January 2016.
  6. ^ a b Rainey, Sarah (16 May 2012). "Royal glove-maker: 'Those gloves will take a beating'". The Daily Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group. Retrieved 22 January 2016.
  7. ^ Lady Di odiaba ponerse guantes, pero por esta triste razón tuvo que usarlos,, 16 August 2017
  8. ^ Danny Scott, Me and my motor: Peter James, bestselling crime novelist,, 17 August 2017

External linksEdit