Famous for the quality of its gloves and the tiny dimensions of the shop, the Luvaria Ulisses can be likened to a pearl – because of its concentrated value. A feeling of success is easily achieved in the shop – just three customers and it’s full to the brim. The limited space is, however, all the space necessary for the shop’s variations on a theme: the glove. Made-to-measure gloves in seven different original sizes that can then be adapted to the customer’s hands. In fine sheepskin, with a bow on the back of the hand, or with a button, embroidery, applications – the variations are endless. Even so, a glove is no longer what it was in the 1920s when Ulisses opened. That was a time when a lady would not be seen outside the house without her gloves. Even in the 1970s, when Carlos Carvalho, one of the current owners, entered the business as an assistant, there were still five glove shops in the Chiado district alone. After the Revolution in 1974, using gloves took on a new social significance and the other glove shops gradually disappeared. Ulisses has remained thanks to its clientele that remains loyal to the quality and personalised service it offers.
The ritual has remained intact down through the years: the glove is opened finger by finger using a wooden tongs-like instrument, and then softened using talcum powder. The customer rests his or her elbow on the cushion that is always on top of the tiny counter and the glove is tried own. Then alterations can be made until it is the ideal fit for the person in question. Literally, a case where one can use the rather cliché expression: “it fits like a glove!” Then the colour of the glove can be chosen and any ornamentation the customer wishes. The necessary adjustments, and the making of the gloves themselves, are carried out in a nearby workshop in Travessa do Almada.
The Luvaria Ulisses was founded in 1925 by Joaquim Rodrigues Simões, who was an alderman in the City Council. Well versed in the urban dynamics of the day, he applied for authorisation to build shops in this part of the Carmo Wall that was left unexploited at the time. This instinct has guaranteed an ideal location for Ulisses today, at the heart of one of Lisbon’s most sought-after shopping districts. The shop’s interior in an imperial style has been maintained since it opened; it was created by Carlos de Alcântara Knotz, a wood carver with the former Barbosa & Costa firm. On the outside, the door and shop window follow the neo-classical lines of the façade in masonry, designed by the engineer Arthur Guilherme Rodrigues Cohen, whose work includes another three shops.