In today’s tech-centric world, it is nearly impossible to imagine a life before instant communication was available. When we want to speak with a friend, we can pick up the phone – or if that is too archaic, we can send a text, a tweet, a Facebook message, an email…the possibilities are endless! Last Friday, members of the FIDM Museum Fashion Council took a step back in time and learned how women of the 19th century communicated before the era of Snapchat through the Silent Language of Fans.
After an elegant (and delicious!) catered tea in Grand Hope Park, guests were treated to a lecture by fashion historian Maxwell Barr on how women used fans to communicate specific meanings. A model wearing reproduction 1880s attire demonstrated the graceful and subtle movements; armed with fans, the audience was able to attempt the silent language for themselves. For example, to flutter the open fan towards oneself indicates “dance with me,” and to direct the open fan towards the floor says “I despise you!” The next time you’re feeling amorous, place your hand over your heart while holding the fan open in front of your eyes – this gesture tells your partner “I love you.” So much more romantic than emojis!