fig. 14
Different fashion feathers
[click on the photo for more info]


fig. 16
"Ms. Ernst" in a classical corset dress with white feather fan




Continued: FEATHER FANS (3)

Around 1890/1900 feather fans (and fans in general) became bigger and bigger with a spread of more than 60 cm. Fans with celluloid sticks are usually smaller, the material produced thinner and thus less solid. In the early 20th century until the 1920ies, the ostrich feather fans extend vertically and consist of less but longer feathers. This development is reflected in the fashion that became taller, with short hair and the waist at the hip. This silhouette is counterbalanced in tall accessories (instead of huge, broad fans as counter-part to the "cul de Paris" and puff.

Feathers became an important fashion decoration, not only on fans. They were applied to collars and capes, were being wound around the neck as marabou boas or adorned the hair-do and the hat (see fig. 14).

On both photos left and right below, you can see a very similar white feather fan, held by two women in totally different dresses but of the same time, around 1890. On the left side, "Ms. Ernst" of the "Volkstheater, Vienna" wears an elegant classical corset dress, whereas the young woman on the right side is dressed in a so-called "reform dress", a dress promoted and designed by artists (for example Gustav Klimt) whose particular (scandalous) feature was that no corset was put on below. "Ms. Ernst" was photographed by a certain Mr. Krziwanek who had his atelier in Vienna and Ischl, the woman on the right was photographed by K.u.K Hof-Photograph (photographer to the Court) "F. Schiller" (Vienna), fig. 16 und 17. More feather fan on postcards see here.

Early on, feather fans were used by married women only, similar to the Renaissance custom. But soon they spread and became an indispensable accessory for evening dresses. During "Art Déco", the feather fan is depicted on many fashion designs but also on publicity fans.

There were few other types of feather fans, as shown in fig. 15. Most probably of Austrian origin, this fan consists of painted goose (or swan) feathers, similar to the Chinese imports half a century before.

A mourning fan with black ostrich feathers and ebony sticks stems presumably from Southern Germany (see fig. 18).

fig. 18
Mourning Fan
[click on the photo for more info]

A different type of feather fan was produced in Brazil towards the end of the 19th century: Circular rigid fans consisting of white (down) feathers, with a taxidermised hummingbird in its center.

Finally, the Worshipful Company of Fan Makers created a fan with 3 white ostrich feathers and silver handle on the occasion of the marriage of Prince Charles with Lady Diane Spencer, thus reviving the old custom of offering the bride fans (shown, amongst others, in Library No. 32).



fig. 15
Goose or swan feather fan, painted[click on the photo for more info]


fig. 17
Young woman in "reform dress" with white feather fan


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