Hand held fans are one of those accessories you don't readily associate with today's fashion. But as the Fan Maker to the Queens in the 19th century, Duvelleroy is the only Parisian house of fans having survived to this day, now being run and contemporized by Eloïse Gilles et Raphaëlle de Panafieu. Formal to fun, their fan collections are unparalleled in terms of design and quality.
above: Eloïse Gilles et Raphaëlle de Panafieu resurrected the brand in 2010
Duvelleroy fans have always been conceived as fashion accessories. Duvelleroy's Couture fans use the finest materials. The Guards and sticks are made of materials such as ebony, carbon fibre, mother of pearl, horn, or bone. Hand laid inlays, copper and furs, silks and feathers (marabou, ostrich, peacock), sequins, laces and brocades embellish the centuries old accessory.
Horn, ebony, mother-of-pearl are cut up in the raw material to obtain layers only 9/10th mm thick, which are then cut in the shape of the frame.
The losses are important but this is the indispensable condition to obtain frames of 14 sticks that lose nothing of their lightness. This requirement is the characteristic trademark of French fanmakers.
First, a little history:
During the XIXth century, DUVELLEROY opened a boutique in Paris at the prestigious address of 15, rue de la Paix as well as an affiliate in London on Bond Street. The ‘Rive Droite’ anchorage of DUVELLEROY was to be consolidated throughout the House’s different addresses in Paris, up until the 1980s.
Under the conduct of the second generation of the Duvelleroy family, the House met with a modern artistic current, which it was about to epitomize in its fans : Art Nouveau. Among the artists who worked for DUVELLEROY during this period, Gendrot, Leloir and Louise Abbéma were the most emblematic of this new era.
above: details of vintage Duvelleroy fans
The fan was metamorphosed into sinuous curbs, venomous flowers and fabulous creatures such as peacocks, snakes and dragons. During this Art Nouveau period, characterized by great inventiveness for DUVELLEROY, two House emblems were born: The “balloon” Fan, named after the aerial shape of its leaf and the daisy as a signature, stamped on each rivet. The two icons can still be found in DUVELLEROY’s contemporary fan collections.
above: The "Balloon" shape and the daisy shaped rivet are two icons still found in Duvelleroy's collections
During the XIXth century, DUVELLEROY published the language of the fan, a small booklet explaining the coded gestures used by women since centuries to say “I love you”, “follow me” or “you are cruel”, with a simple manipulation of their fan.
Official supplier to the Queens, starting with Queen Victoria, DUVELLEROY created the fans given to the Spouses of Statesmen for their official visits in France, for example the Empress of Austria, the Queen of Sweden, the Queen of Denmark and the Queen of Bulgaria.
The House also created Eugénie de Montijo’s fan for her wedding with Napoleon III, and the white ostrich feather fan worn by the Queen of Egypt.
DUVELLEROY specialized itself in “trophy” fans, intricate artworks of feathers assembled from a single bird, sometimes even integrating a bird’s head on the guard.
above: A 1890's Duvelleroy Trophy Bird Fan (images courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum)
In parallel with its Couture collections, DUVELLEROY also developed as early as the 19th Century an offer of promotional fans, collaborating with artists such as Paul Iribe (see illustration below), to accompany some of the great names in luxury to advertise differently their brand and products.
above: Fan design by Paul Iribe, who was also known for his sketch of a mother and daughter which inspired Lanvin’s trademark
Numerous fragrance & champagne houses, palaces and couture houses have turned towards DUVELLEROY for original advertising fans.
In 2010, two young women partnered with DUVELLEROY’s last heir and threw themselves into resurrecting the house. One is passionate of brand heritage, the other has worn fans since childhood. When Eloïse and Raphaëlle met, together they forged a dream : to resuscitate couture fans, by redeveloping one of the most important Parisian fan house. They became partners with the inheritor of the DUVELLEROY house, to give a second life to the brand by launching contemporary creations.
Duvelleroy Couture Fan Collection:
The ultimate expression of Duvelleroy’s Couture spirit is embodied by sequined fans. Each sequin, the thinness and shape of wich are designed solely for fans, is hand embroidered once the leaf of the fan is mounted, so as to avoid any risk of overlap with a pleat.
Contemporary Duvelleroy Fan Collection:
A less expensive irreverant collection with fans by such designers as Jean Charles and Louis Marie de Castelbajac, Lovisa Burfett and Zoulikha Bouabdellah which are available through their e-boutique.
New Bridal Fan Collection:
Most recently they've launched a new Bridal Collection featuring a white ostrich fan for the bride and "Oui" fans for the Bridal Party:
Couture Fan (made to measure). Leaf in white silk & ostrich feathers, frame in white mother-of-pearl:
Price: 2000 €.
all images © Duvelleroy and the Metropolitan Museum
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