History and rebirth of a Parisian Hand-Fan House


History and rebirth of a Parisain Hand-fan house

Duvelleroy began with the dream of young man called jean-pierre duvelleroy. this dream was to bring fans back into women’s hands. the duchess de berry organized a sumptuous ball which made this happen, with a quadrille that could only be danced with a fan. one dance, and fans were back : a true kick off for the house of Duvelleroy.

1827, founding of the original Duvelleroy fan house in paris

In london, with a hand-fan made for queen victoria. from then on, the delicacy in the making of the fans – representative of the french couture savoir-faire – granted the original house with many gold medals. fathers and sons received the légion d’honneur, the greatest order of merit for in France.

1850s, supplier to the queens

Over this decade, Jean-Pierre Duvelleroy was appointed supplier to various courts, starting with queen Victoria. the original house also created eugénie de montijo’s fan for her wedding with napoleon iii and supplied the city of paris with presents for the spouses of statesmen during their official visits in france, for example the empress of Austria, the queen of Sweden, the queen of Denmark or the queen of Bulgaria. Parisian beauties, trendsetters of their time such as the comtesse de Greffulhe, also fancied holding the maison’s fans in their hands.

Art nouveau (circa 1895 – 1914), key stylistic period for the original maison

The belle epoque and art nouveau opened a flourishing creative era for georges duvelleroy, the heir of jean-pierre. artists such as billotey, louise abbéma or maurice leloir contributed to the creations, introducing the vegetal world, organic and curvy, representative of the art nouveau style. during that period 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. by the end of the xixth century, the maison started collaborating with renowned illustrators such as paul iribe, gendrot, or gicar and created advertising hand-fans for great names of the luxury world such as the ritz.

The language of the fan

In 1711, joseph addison wrote in the spectator: “women are armed with fans as men with swords and sometimes do more execution with them”. not only used to provide a cooling breeze, the handheld fan was also used to comunicate discreetly. in the XVIII th century, various fan experts published illlutrated instructions. in the XIX th century, the london branch of the original house of duvelleroy published its own version of the coded fan gestures used to express messages like “i love you” (drawing the fan across the cheek) or “follow me” (carrying the fan in the right hand in front of the face)… thus illustrating the playful and mischievous spirit of the maison.

Duvelleroy, creator of objects

As a complement to hand-fans, the original Duvelleroy maison provided clients with all the accessories required by an elegant life (evening purses, binoculars for the opera…) featuring the best and most innovative crafts of the time. from the patented “tom pouce” binoculars to the tassels used to hang fans onto belts, or the registered design of the trophy fans, the maison innovated following the guidance of Georges Duvelleroy.

histoire eventail dentelle

After WWI, change of era, change of activity

World War I marked the end of a certain world and its way of life; fabric hand-fans declined in favour of advertising ones. The Ostrich fans remained in fashion thanks to the taste of the “Garconnes” during the roaring 20s. Duvelleroy manufactured the white ostrich feather fan worn by the Queen of Egypt Farida Zulfikar for her wedding with King Farouk in 1938. Georges Duvelleroy passed on his savoir-faire and knowledge to Madeleine Boisset, painter and fan maker, while his daughter took over the direction of the company. The evening bags became the major part of the Maison’s creations and enabled to maintain the company’s activity.

1940-1981, fan-making at the age of air conditioning

In 1940, Jules-Charles Maignan acquired the Maison. Madeleine Boisset, a longtime apprentice of Georges Duvelleroy, ensured the continuity of the know-how. With her, the young Michel Maignan discovered the world of fan making. Duvelleroy is one of the only fan houses that made it after World War II. During the following decades, selling small leather goods and pouches, as well antique fans and restoring them became the main activity of the house.

1981-2009, cherishing a heritage

In 1981, Jules-Charles Maignan passed on to his grand-son Michel Maignan, part of the archives of the original Duvelleroy house: fans, tools, material and furniture gathered since 1827. “i give it to you so that you can make something out of it”, his grand-father said. during the following decades, this patrimony was presented in many retrospective exhibits around fan making: in 1986 at the Galliera Museum; in 1995, in england, with the Duvelleroy exhibition: king of fans, fan-maker to kings.

2010, creative renewal, the awakening of a sleeping beauty

In 2010, Michel Maignan partnered with Eloïse Gilles and Raphaëlle Le Baud, two young women passionate with brand heritage and crafts. The awakened Maison conveys the traditional French fan-making savoir-faire in Couture hand-fans whilst embracing the taste of the times through ready-to-wear fans made in Spain. Miscellaneous objects, such as headdresses and mural wall lamps, enrich the house’s universe and come as a reminder that the original Maison had a broad field of expression.

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