Tag Archives: ostrich feather fans

A Lure In Fans: 1912


But a New York Woman Says They Must Be Used Rightly.

“Women who have traveled a good deal know best how to use the fan,” said the young woman. She had just returned from looking at a private collection of fans which in conjunction with other art objects belonging to the same owner was to be sold at auction the next day. In this, her line, this young woman was thoroughly informed. She could be trusted to lay in a stock of fans which would delight Fifth Avenue and the clientele which helps support Fifth Avenue stores, and, moreover, she knew how to appraise to a nicety the kind of customer suitable for a certain make of fan. No haphazard matching of fan and woman for her.

“New York women are learning that to carry a 50-cent fan when wearing a $300 gown is almost laughable,” she explained. “It is not so very long though since they found this out.”

Jules de Ban court presentation gown for Lucile, c. 1923. http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O699496/fashion-design-jules-de-ban/

Jules de Ban court presentation gown for Lucile, c. 1923. http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O699496/fashion-design-jules-de-ban/


The young woman expert referred to paid a compliment when she said that New York women were learning to know a fine fan and the artistic possibilities it suggests.
“One need only to go to the opera,” she said, “to see that. And, as I said before, women who have traveled get onto these fine points sooner. Of course there are New York women who think of a fan merely as a fan and probably they will always be like that. Take a Spanish or an Italian or a French woman and she is apt to think of a fan in almost any other way than as a fan.

“One day, for instance, two young women asked to see very large ostrich feather fans, which by the way have been one of the most taking designs of the winter. One was tall and athletic looking, the other petite with a Japanese cast of features. I encouraged the tall one all I could to buy the $100 huge white feather fan she admired, for she could manage it splendidly. She had a masterly way with her which showed that she could handle the thing to the best advantage. But the little one looked dwarfed with a fan like that.


“’What you want,’ I told her, ‘is one of these painted French fans to agree with your chic style.’ I would have recommended a small fan of Oriental coloring but that the painted French fan was handsomer and more what she wanted.

“One of my customers the other day was a graceful woman of the brunette type who has languid Spanish eyes. ‘A lace fan by all means,’ I advised, when she hesitated between one of gauze decorated with gold and silver and somewhat larger one of point lace mounted on those wide pearl sticks indicative of Austrian workmanship. ‘I am sure that you can manage a fan like that as well as a Spanish woman and it is just your style.’ She laughed, and chose the lace, saying, demurely, ‘I have been told that I can manage a fan very well.’


“Now that woman knew something about the use of a fan.

“So did a young woman with a saucy turned up nose and the bright glancing type of brown eyes which are not at all common, who told me: ‘I’m just crazy to have one of those big feather fans, but I don’t think it suits my style.’ No more did it and I was glad that she chose an 8-inch spangled fan of variegated color. That she will use that to some purpose I am pretty sure.”
Nothing could be funnier, the saleswoman agreed, than the contrast afforded by the 25-inch and the 30-inch feather fans and the 5-inch and 6-inch pompadour fans of spangled gauze and many different colors which are among the most coquettish and novel of the latest varieties, unless indeed it is the flower fans which are just coming in again and promise all sort of novelties.

The tiny spangled affairs are attached to a chatelaine chain, and, according to an authority they are intended more for ornament and as an aid to flirtation than for real use.

Kansas City [MO] Star 5 March 1912: p. 16

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: “Women who have travelled a good deal,” “handle the thing to the best advantage,” “knew something about the use of a fan,” “will use that to some purpose.” Here the language of the fan seems riddled with sinister euphemisms for either seduction or murder. One is not quite sure which….

The “new” pompadour and flower fans were actually described two years earlier. The photograph above shows one of these bijoux creations.

Fan Novelty

The new fans are all quite short, most of them not larger than seven or eight inches. Many are of moiré, closely spangled, with handsome chased gold, ivory or tortoise shell sticks. Spangled gauze is also much seen on these modified empire fans. One of the novelties of the season is a fan that when closed shows masses of flowers at the top of sticks to resemble a small bouquet. When opened the fan is closely covered with flower petals of tiny flowers and foliage so that none of the silk background shows. Roses are the favorite for the floral fan, but carnations, orchids, iris and poppies are also seen.

Baxter Springs [KS] News 13 January 1910: p. 3

Previous posts on fans have included society ladies’ historic fans, the fan revival after the Great War, and a “Fan Academy,” to teach ladies to manage their fans. There is also an article on the Princess Royal’s wedding fan and a strange costume version of it worn by a child actress.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.