Since air conditioning is not always an option, our best friends that help us endure in style the heat are the good, old fans. Literally, a cool summer accessory for girls and boys.
The hand-held fan dates from thousands of years ago. It has been first used in Ancient Egypt, then in China and India, and later in Europe for centuries.
Sadly, the beautiful fans have been for some time, associated with grannies or women of a certain age suffering those dreadful heat waves. So younger women have felt very self-conscious about fanning themselves, causing this chic accessory almost to disappear into oblivion.
But luckily this misconception is slowly fading away. Fans are back in fashion, and carrying a fan became a cool summer accessory. In all the weddings and dinner parties we’ve been to this summer, we’ve spotted younger women with fans in their hands. This clever tribe looks not only utterly chic but also fresh and much happier than the others who were melting away in sweat!
The secret language of fans
Besides being feminine and practical, it is said that fans played in the past a significant role in society. The hand object is meant to send secret messages across a room. In the Victorian era, the secret language of fans was widely used for coquetry and to flirt discretely without having to say a single word. And of course, without being caught! For example; holding your fan next to the heart would mean: “You have my love”. Touching the tip of the fan with your finger: “I’d like to speak to you”. Fanning yourself quickly: “I’m engaged”, doing it slowly: “I’m married”. With the handle to your lips: “kiss me”, and so on.
We will never know for sure if this secret language was understood by men, if it really existed at all or if it was only a smart marketing strategy to increase sales of the fan manufacturer Maison Duvelleroy. The French company published the handbook “The language of the Fan”, which would come in the box of every fan they sold. In any case, one thing is for sure; the lady who knew how to carry and hold the sometimes opulent accessory with elegance would definitely draw more attention to her wherever she went.
Since it isn’t easy to find a good-quality fan nowadays, we’ve listed here the best places to get your elegant summer accessory.
The best places for fans
If you’re looking for something extraordinary, a fan as summer accessory of extra class, then antique shops and auction houses are the best places. There you’ll find luxury hand fans with some history. But there are some brands still manufacturing special hand-held fans today.
Dorotheum, the Austrian Auction House is the perfect place to browse and look for an antique fan. They hold several auctions a year and online auctions too, so if you don’t find what you’re looking for in your first visit to the Palais Dorotheum in the heart of Vienna, remember they’re always getting new lots to sell.
Maison Duvelleroy, a fan manufacturer located in Paris was founded 190 years ago and is the last great house in France to produce fans. It was the supplier to Empress Napoleon III, Empress of Russian, Queen Victoria and other European Queens.
Casa de Diego
The Spanish Casa Diego, located in Madrid, with more than 150 years of experience, produces hand-made fans in mother-of-pearl, wood, ebony or bone which are real works of art.
Weibi online shop delivers in Austria and Germany Spanish fans. They have plenty of options but can take around three weeks to deliver so you should order your stylish accessory and life-saviour before the summer begins.
Wilhelm Sachtner, located in Vienna, is actually a Ballet shop, but you can find in the store Spanish fans used by Flamenco dancers. Unfortunately, they don’t offer many options.
The Fan Museum
The Fan Museum holds a world-renowned comprehensive collection of fans from all over the world from the 11th century up to today. The collection is especially strong in 18th and 19th-century European fans. The Fan Museum is located in Greenwich, London, and besides its permanent collection and temporary exhibitions, there is also a shop where you can buy a variety of fans.
Launched in 2017 by Daisy Hoppen and Amanda Borbeg, Fern presents traditional wood fans with a contemporary and colourful design. Made in Spain!