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Why Are Hand Fans Suddenly Everywhere?

Why Are Hand Fans Suddenly Everywhere?

Summer 2019 could go down as one of the hottest on record. And it’s not just the temperatures that have us sweating, there’s also the anxiety dredged up by the prospect of a boiling planet. Global warming is, of course, a downer, but the one constant of fashion is that, by definition, it responds to societal change, even the catastrophic kind. Case in point: this summer’s hand fan trend. The retro accessory has been popular for a couple of years now, but in recent months, fans have truly hit max cool. . So, that brings us to 2019, when seemingly every young woman in Brooklyn now has a folding, accordion-style model ready to whip out from her tote bags if faced with a smoldering hot subway platform.

Take Adwoa Aboah, for example, who brandished a Christopher Kane hand fan emblazoned with the word “sex.”

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There was Lupita Nyong’o wearing a sherbert-shaded Versace creation for the 2019 Met Gala, the theme of which was Camp: Notes on Fashion and holding a confectionary-colored hand fan that, when flaccid, appeared at first glance to be just a simple clutch.

Lupita and fan

Chaka Khan made the rounds earlier this year to promote her latest album. And you know she wasn’t going to forget that signature monogrammed, bamboo-handled papillon hand fan she’s been carrying for years.

Chaka Khan

RuPaul’s Drag Race winner Aquaria held one on stage while performing during San Diego Pride, and Rossy de Palma has been fanning herself on red carpets all year long.

Aquaria performing
Rossy De Palma

Is the heat melting our brains, quickening our collective descent into madness? Are hand fans just another accessory, likely made of plastic or other wasteful materials, contributing to the problem they’re ostensibly designed to solve? Is the trend indicative of a subconscious response to an environmental threat against humanity, or is it simply a coincidence? There are still a few weeks left in the summer, but with these rising temperatures the heat will probably bleed well into the fall. Our forecast: fans will be all over the Fashion Week come September.

By Cynthia Lowell


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