One of the (many) things I collect are vintage fans. I love looking at them and thinking of the parties they attended, the smiles they hid, and the dancers they cooled.
It also gives me the excuse to (very, very belatedly) show you some of the gorgeous images of a model in my robe a la francaise holding one of the fans that Mandi Lynn of A La Mode Photography took for the Radio New Zealand photoshoot (remember the out-takes?). The photoshoot images were so fabulous that I thought “I’ll save them for something special” and then before I knew it a year and a half had passed. Sorry!
Isn’t she gorgeous? Isn’t the fan gorgeous? Aren’t the photos gorgeous!?!
The first fan is a brisé fan made of paper thin bone or ivory sticks carved with lacy patterns and joined together with a satin ribbon. It’s very similar to the sandalwood (or sandalwood scented) fans that you can still buy in Chinatowns in its design and construction.
It probably dates from the early 20th century, and is robust enough to be held and used, though I wouldn’t use it for anything more energetic than a studio photoshoot. It’s clearly a bit of an anachronism to pair with an 18th century gown, but the delicate colours and shape worked well with the robe a la francaise aesthetically.
This fan was given to me by the darling and fabulous Emily of Ever So Scrumptious (also the genius behind my blog design) who already had a similar fan and thought I would get more use out of it than she would. Have I mentioned before that I have the best friends ever?
The second fan I want to show you was a gift from Mr D for our wedding anniversary.
Mr D is a genius when it comes to anniversary gifts. He says “Darling, instead of bumbling around in a store and trying to find something that you’d like and probably getting it wrong, I’d like to have an experience and spend time with you. Why don’t we go to your favourite antique store and you can pick out something and that way we’ll have an afternoon together and you get something you want?” And we do this. And he even sort of enjoys the antique stores – looking at the weirder things, and getting excited about the sports memorabilia. How clever is he?
The antique store dated this fan to the late 19th century, but sometimes I think it could be as recent as the 1930s, and that era of Rococo revival. I may like fans, but I’m actually terrible at dating most of mine! They just aren’t textile-y enough.
The fan is certainly a direct take on 18th century fans, with a central painting of a Rococo beauty and her besotted swain in shades of pink and green on the black paper background.
The fan is further embellished with delicate baskets, and tiny sewn-on sequins
The painted paper is backed in black silk gauze, now very fragile and torn.
The sticks are quite simple wooden sticks, painted black with gilt gold trim. It’s not impossible to find modern fans with similar sticks.
Aren’t the both just gorgeous? I wish modern things were half as pretty!