Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style


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Entries in fan (11)


Australian Sunday

Australia Day is a day a little fraught by race issues in truth, but today I’ve chosen to focus on something a little more positive, spending my day making art. Yesterday I had my hair cut into a classic 1920s bob, and wanted to take advantage of my beautifully styled hair before I wash it, and wreck it all in my cack-handed attempts to mimic my hair stylist’s skill.

Women with Fans, 1930, by Thea ProctorThe Rose, c1928, by Thea ProctorSo, inspired by the striking prints of early twentieth century Australian artist Thea Proctor (1879–1966) – who was in turn inspired by Japanese woodblocks – I donned some Oriental garb, lashings of kohl and lounged on my bed. Here are the results.

I hope you all have had a wonderful Australia Day dear Snapettes (or an equally lovely ordinary Sunday). Kisses.

Read more about Thea Proctor here


Fine and Dandy

Dandies, also known as beaus or gallants, have been around for a long time. A dandy’s raison d’être is Style – through ‘physical appearance, refined language, and leisurely hobbies, pursued with the appearance of nonchalance in a cult of Self.’ [Wikipedia]

George Bryan ‘Beau’ Brummell, caricature in watercolour by Richard Dighton, 1805Though not the founder of the movement, Beau Brummell (1778–1840) epitomises the notion of the dandy in English society, and was the arbiter of fashion in Regency days (think Jane Austen for you non-history-nerds). He was elegant, immaculately dressed and groomed, and despised the extremities of fashion as worn by the outlandish ‘Macaronis’ of earlier decades.

Fond of plain, dark suits worn with perfectly starched linen and accessorised with an elaborately tied cravat, Beau Brummell instituted a style of men’s dress that has reigned for the past two centuries. He was one of the first celebrities, famous chiefly for being famous, as a ‘laconically witty clotheshorse’. A socialite of olden days in fact. 

This fashion shoot elegantly photographed by Jurgen Teller for Arena Homme in the 1990s is inspired by the dandies of Evelyn Waugh’s era. There is an elegance in these pictures, with a dash of subversive wit to leaven them. The (mostly) black and white photography with faint echoes of René Margritte and the minimal set are immaculate, and the styling and art direction clever.

Enjoy this wonderful homage to the dandy of the twentieth century.

Click on the images for larger versions.


A Heavy Blow

Back in the day, before air conditioners, before electricity, the elegant lady who wanted to keep her cool wielded a fan. The hotter it was, the bigger the fan. Fanning yourself with one of these babies was a good workout too. It was also an excellent method for shooing off flies and other unwelcome pests.


A Pose with Poise


If ever there was a mad hat for a lover of chapeaux (moi), then this is it. Made from gilded straw and a sheaf of soft chocolate coloured ostrich feathers, it must surely have first been worn by some diva of the stage – like Erté’s still, elegant 1920s ladies, who are poised as they strike a pose. With something this enormous (nearly one metre wide) on my head, good posture and gliding movements are mandatory.

All that remains is an event to wear it to. I work part time at a theatre, and suggestions for Christmas party themes are currently being welcomed – fingers crossed whatever it may be I will somehow be able to work it.

I purchased the hat in a vintage store in Sydney, for the mean price of $33, and it was quite a task to convince the airline staff to let me take it home with me. Read about the adventure here. Scroll down for some of Erté’s precariously balanced ladies. 

Cirse, by ErtéThe Bird Cage, by ErtéAthena, by ErtéAt the theatre, ebony and white, by Erté


I am Desirous of Your Acquaintance

Carrying the open fan in the left hand; or, holding fan in front of face: ‘I am desirous of your acquaintance’.He waits breathlessly in the garden darkness, lurking under the jacaranda tree … will his sweet ladylove find a way to foil her dastardly husband and sneak out of the house to keep their tryst? Or will he go home, disconsolate? He must await some signal from her; surely it will come soon, for she knows what agonies beat in his breast …

Ah yes, once upon a time, in a more romantic age before mobile phones, clandestine lovers communicated via another method in … THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF THE FAN!

Slowly fanning oneself; could also mean (when fanning with specifically the left hand), ‘Don’t flirt with that woman’ – in this instance I guess the gentleman would use the lady’s expression as a guide!Fans have been used as far back as the days of ancient Greece and Rome, unsurprisingly, as a method of keeping one’s cool. In the 2nd century B.C. China, specific fans were associated with status and gender, though the famous dancing fan was not developed until the 7th century. There were even iron fans used as weapons, bringing new meaning to the cruelty of lovers.

But perhaps the heydey of the fan was in eighteenth century Europe, especially in the ballroom. It was an essential accessory, and just as important as knowing the ABCs of love was knowing how to wield it elegantly. As was said of Queen Charlotte, wife to King George III, even the plainest woman could become attractive if she used her fan graciously. Young ladies, therefore, were instructed on the proper way to handle their fan.

… even the plainest woman could become attractive if she used her fan graciously.

Rigid or folding, fans have been constructed from many materials: bone, ivory, tortoiseshell, painted silk or paper, chicken skin (an unattractive way of describing a fine kid), and were decorated with gold or silver leaf, feathers or even jewels. Louis XVI gave Marie Antoinette a diamond-encrusted fan for a wedding present. Queen Elizabeth I carried a folding fan dancing with pompoms (I like the sound of that!).

Fans in my collection: (clockwise from top) vintage wooden fan threaded with navy ribbon; Spanish souvenir; vintage painted paper fan, a souvenir from Hong Kong (the reverse side is painted with calligraphic characters); Vietnamese souvenir.Holding the open fan over the left earBack to my breathless Romeo … best put him out of his misery. He will instantly know, if the lady in question briefly appears on the balcony fanning herself slowly, before returning inside and shutting the door, she cannot go out to meet him. If, on the other hand, she fans herself quickly and excitedly, and leaves the door open, he will know she will come out soon.

It was quite a complex language, and a lady (and the gentleman of course) had to remember the difference between left and right – it might mean the difference between disaster and bliss.

It was really difficult to choose which of these priceless messages to illustrate. One of my favourites was the holding the fan to shield oneself from the sun – to signal, “I find you ugly!” Somewhat difficult to pull off in a ballroom, I imagine.

Holding the closed fan over the left earHere are some fan signals for your delectation:

  1. The fan placed near the heart: “You have won my love”
  2. A closed fan touching the right eye: “When may I be allowed to see you?”
  3. The number of sticks shown answered the question: “At what hour?”
  4. Threatening movements with a fan closed: “Do not be so imprudent”
  5. Half-opened fan pressed to the lips: “You may kiss me”
  6. Hands clasped together holding an open fan: “Forgive me”
  7. Covering the left ear with an open fan: “Do not betray our secret”
  8. Hiding the eyes behind an open fan: “I love you”
  9. Shutting a fully opened fan slowly: “I promise to marry you”
  10. Letting the fan rest on the right cheek: “Yes”
  11. Letting the fan rest on the left cheek: “No”
  12. Opening and closing the fan several times: “You are cruel”
  13. Dropping the fan: “We will be friends”
  14. Putting the fan handle to the lips: “Kiss me”
  15. Opening a fan wide: “Wait for me”
  16. Fan in right hand in front of face: “Follow me”
  17. Fan in left hand in front of face: “I am desirous of your acquaintance”
  18. Fan held over left ear: “I wish to get rid of you”
  19. Twirling the fan in the left hand: “We are being watched”
  20. Twirling the fan in the right hand: “I love another”
  21. Carrying the open fan in the right hand: “You are too willing”
  22. Carrying the open fan in the left hand: “Come and talk to me”
  23. Drawing the fan through the hand: “I hate you!”
  24. Hiding the sunlight: “You’re ugly”
  25. Presenting the fan shut: “Do you love me?” 

Forget the air con, employ a fan! It’s much more fun.

Shielding oneself from sunlight (or the harsh glare of those chandeliers in the ballroom)