Originating in Egypt, the hand fan appeared over 4,000 years ago as a sacred and religious symbol used by royals. The first hand fans featured golden handles and were covered in feathers; or in ebony with gold and precious stones. Today, the folding hand fan conjures notions of old Hollywood glamour, and recalls silver screen icons such as Elizabeth Taylor and Hedy Lamarr posing demurely with delicate lace fans. Hand fans remain an elegant accessory, especially on special occasions. With the flick of the wrist, a fan provides an instant and welcome chill after a session of swaying on the dance floor at a wedding.
Paris-based couture fan maker, Duvelleroy, is renowned for its impeccable designs made from precious materials. Think ostrich and peacock feathers, delicate organza petals, and embroidered tulle that make up the fan leafs; while fan frames are crafted from ebony and mother of pearl. Founded in 1827 by Jean-Pierre Duvelleroy, the artisan brand served as the official fan supplier to royals, beginning with Queen Victoria. The house also created an elaborate white ostrich feather fan for Queen Farida of Egypt that she wore on her wedding day to King Farouk in 1938.
In 2010, Raphaëlle de Panafieu and Eloïse Gilles revived the historical fan house. Speaking to Vogue Arabia on the brand’s latest couture collection, Gilles remarks, “We mingled lush silver lurex with deep blue silk, dark navy feathers, and black ebony. For the feathers, we played on marabout, ostrich, and a marquetry of peacock feathers applied on a small, lovely balloon shape.”
Curious as to how one may pull off a hand fan at an upcoming soirée? Gilles suggests, “A hand fan is a conversation piece at a black tie event. No need to overdress if you have a dazzling feathered fan in your hand. You can hide behind it at a table or have fun and dance with it. You’ll always have style and fresh air.”
Above, Vogue Arabia’s edit of Duvelleroy hand fans that blend tradition, modernity, and unadulterated luxury.