In our technology-dominated world, you may not have seen the renaissance of the hand-held fan coming. Don’t blame yourself, most people I know are too busy proclaiming their excitement about those tiny little fans that plug into your phone. Sure, they’re efficient enough and you save yourself some mild arm ache, but do they look anything like as elegant as the new breed of hand fans currently having their moment in the sun? No, they do not.
Before Covid (simpler times), I discovered the magnificence of the hand-held fan in the midst of a chaotic, hot and sticky journey to work on a train. Among the sweaty commuters was a woman, serene in the midst of the soaring temperatures and general discomfort clearly felt by all. I had forgotten all about her, given the absence of commuting for the last couple of year. Until today, that is, when I once again found myself en route to work on a train that was, I imagine, hotter than the sun.
Suddenly, the image of that woman cam back to me. There was not one bead of sweat on her brow and her hair was gently blowing in a breeze, so as to make her resemble J-Lo in any music video ever. I quickly realised that said breeze was being generated from the woman’s fan, a colourful, patterned object that looked so glamorous in the midst of what was now becoming much like a hellscape. It was all I could do not to snatch it out of her hand.
Previously, it would have been a little tricky to find such a thing as a hand-held fan on the high street, but it seems the popularity of this ancient accessory has only grown. From fashion weeks to the Met Gala (remember the rainbow feathered fan carried by Lupita Nyong'o in 2019?) fans have become mainstream again, much to my delight.
There are a number of brands and independent designers making beautiful styles from as little as £4. Short of flinging yourself into the nearest body of water, this might just be the most affordable way to keep cool during this heatwave.