Stay Cool in Vintage Style

Rediscover a forgotten but much-loved fashion accessory – the hand fan!
It’s one of the most stylish ways to stay cool for summer.

The Hand Fan

Words and pictures: Julijana Joseph

It’s great to see the hand fan fashionable again! Recently some of the most stylish fashionistas have been seen out and about with a hand fan. Katy Perry, Naomi Campbell, Karl Lagerfeld (the King of the hand fan) Julianne Moore, Dita Von Teese and even Camilla, Duchess of Cornwell have all been seen with a hand fan. The fashion label Louis Vuitton even released a limited edition hand fan last year.


Did you know the hand fan has a language all its own? The hand fan has been used as a fashion accessory by women and men all over the world for thousands of years, dating back to 3000BC in Egypt. It has been reported by some that two fans were found in King Tut’s tomb! In the 1700-1800s, women used fans to communicate with men. This was known as ‘Fanology’ or ‘Language of the Fan’.


Men even purchased books to interpret these silent messages, a few of which are:

– Covering your face with a hand fan suggests, ‘I love you’.
–  Running your hands through the ribs of your fan suggests, ‘I want to talk to you’.
–  Slowly fanning yourself – ‘Don’t waste my time, I don’t care’.


language of the fan 2 language of the fan (1) Dont waste my time
Covering of your face with a hand fan suggests, ‘I love you’ Running your hands through the ribs of your fan suggests, ‘I want to talk to you’.
Slowly fanning yourself suggests, ‘Don’t waste my time, I don’t care’.

From the 1920s to the 1950s the hand fan was very popular as an essential accessory at outdoor and indoor occasions and social gatherings. Feathered fans were a favourite with burlesque dancers and are still used in places like Moulin Rouge in Paris. The fans added mystery and glamour to any show. Movies such as The Great Gatsby also show fashionable women flirting with the use of hand fans.Kel with the Frances edit
For the past few decades the hand fan seemed to have been overlooked, but there is now a wonderful resurgence for this beautiful and practical accessory. People from all over the world are now collecting these beautiful pieces of memorabilia. And there are also a number of hand fan museums around the world in major cities like London, California, Tokyo and Paris!

Picture1 edit

It was a hot summer’s day at an outdoor event in Sydney, Australia when Julijana Trifunovic realised a hand fan is a truly essential accessory for Australian women. In an effort to combat the heat, she grabbed a nearby magazine to fan herself and wondered what stylish fan options might be available in the shops.


Her research revealed there was little available at the good quality designer end of the market, so she spent the following months researching manufacturers and developing a quality range.


“Australia’s climate, combined with our active outdoor lifestyle means we are often in need of something to cool us down; whether it’s at a barbecue, picnic, garden party or other social or formal event,” said Julijana.  “It may be at the races or watching tennis or cricket – even indoors at a concert or church – where that little breeze provided by a hand fan makes us just a little bit more comfortable.”


We have to agree it adds a touch of glamour, allowing us to look stylish and elegant in even the hottest weather.


If you would like to see Julijana’s range, visit her website:



Words and pictures: Julijana Joseph

One thought on “Stay Cool in Vintage Style

  1. JessB

    Wow, what a fantastic article! I knew that women (and men) used the language of fans to communicate across ballrooms from the days of King Louis and Marie Antoinette, but I never really thought of carrying one with me today.

    I’m off to check out Julijana’s website, and see what I can get to keep me cool this summer!

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