Fabulous Fashion Item: A Brief History of the Hand-held Fan

Palmette fan from 1680. The elements of the leaf are made of silk fixed on cardboards and are painted with gold and silver.

Palmette fan from 1680. The elements of the leaf are made of silk fixed on cardboards and are painted with gold and silver.

This post celebrates a fabulous fashion item: the hand-held fan.
From a ceremonial tool used in churches it developed into a must-have accessory of the high-society. Designs and materials varied with politics, social changes and fashion. Still, the fan always was an object of breathtaking beauty.
Enjoy the photos and the brief overview of the history of the fan in England. You can click on the photos to enlarge them.

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A Brief History of the Napoleonic Wars told … in 10 Hand-held Fans

Napoleon conquering the sea, French fan leaf, ca. 1800.

Napoleon conquering the sea, French fan leaf, ca. 1800.

A fan was a popular accessory in the Romantic Age. No lady would be seen without a fan at a ball or assembly. The design of the fans was as varied as was the fashion. Often political events were celebrated or commemorated with special designs for fans. The victories of the British Army during the Peninsular Wars and the Battle of Waterloo were such occasions. It is even possible to tell a brief history of the Napoleonic Wars in 10 beautiful fans made between 1800 – 1816.

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Making a Gown for a Jane Austen Ball

reticule and fan 2The Museum of Creativity proudly presents “An Empire-Style Ball Gown Based on 21th Century Clothes”.

I cannot determine what to do about my new Gown”, Jane Austen once wrote to her sister Cassandra. This is a feeling many of us can sympathize with. If you are going to attend a ball set in the Regency period, figuring out what to wear, where to get it or how to do it yourself is no easy task.

I am going to go a Jane-Austen-Ball at the end of this month. As I can’t sew, I tried to make the ball gown from everyday clothes I had found in my cupboard. But halfway through roughing out a concept for a modest white cotton gown, I stumbled upon a dazzling beautiful red lace in an oriental drapery. Though I knew perfectly well that I haven’t the sewing skills to handle the lace, I bought it. Continue reading

Napoleon’s Taste in Shoes and other Delightful Trivia

Truely imperial luxury: stairs leading up to Napoleon's bed

Truly imperial luxury: stairs leading up to Napoleon’s bed

Napoleon – hero and ogre in one person. I travelled to France this spring to learn more about one of the most famed and famous men in history. I found many treasures and many quirks. Watch my short photo-film “Napoleon – Treasures at Fontainebleau Palace” to learn

  • was Napoleon shortsighted?
  • what was his taste in shoes?
  • did he take snuff?

and to enjoy the beautiful objects.

Click here to go to the video.