How Dim Sums and Handheld Fans Touch Hearts


© Vittavat / Fotolia

© Vittavat / Fotolia

Sydney has a swag of hidden watering holes which I’m on an odyssey to explore in the next year. Recently I visited Chinese-themed bar Uncle Ming’s with a girlfriend. For a Sinophile like me, it was love at first sight.

We didn’t have time to sample the dumplings or dim sums which, according to foodies, ‘touch your heart’, living up to their Chinese meaning. Instead, I knocked back an icy Tsingtao, while my friend sipped a sav blanc.

As I ordered the next round, I spotted a couple with serious PDA. It was on the level of Shurley aka Warnie and Hurley. My friend and I were both thinking, ‘Get a room!’  We guess they did as they soon disappeared up the stairs and into nightfall.

So, with PDA in the air, I was surprised to learn a few days later that up until around the 1920s, western women and men were still unable to chat up each other

According to Aussie entrepreneur Julijana Joseph, the sexes invented an innovative way to communicate via handheld fans so they could bypass restrictive codes of conduct at that time.

She stumbled across this historic innovation as she researched and developed her eponymous and now growing online designer fan business.

Karla fan, fun for flirting. Photo credit: Julijana Joseph

Karla fan, fun for flirting. Photo credit: Julijana Joseph

The type of fan I’m talking about is a handcrafted and handheld fashion accessory for which Julijana is staging its comeback. What’s more, her creative flair is bringing back sexy to this forgotten accessory.

Julijana explains that a fan was once vital to a woman’s success in love.  Apart from its practical use, a fan enabled a woman to flirt, using a silent language created around its movements as women and men once couldn’t communicate freely with each other.

“Fashion magazines from the 1700s were writing about this fabulous hidden conversation between the sexes. There were even books written for men to find out what women were telling them,” she says.

The couple making out at Uncle Ming’s would not approve of the language of the fan, I’m sure!

Mickey fan for the adventurous. Photo credit: Julijana Joseph

Mickey fan for the adventurous. Photo credit: Julijana Joseph

While the handheld fan has been in use since around 4000 BC, Julijana says the accessory is still relevant today. Fans cool, provide shade from the sun, and – as a Julijana Joseph innovation – they add a pop of drama or colour to an outfit.

Julijana says that her designer fans are for every woman and everyday occasions like the beach, bus stop, church, sporting events, the races, picnics and barbies.

I reckon even Mama June, Honey Boo Boo’s Mum, who shuns anything “fancy”, would use one. And, Down Under, Brynne Edelston and other cool fashionistas would get a kick out of a Julijana Joseph creation, not only for its style, but uniqueness.

As this fashion trend gains traction, just remember you heard it here first.

If a new silent language of the fan was created today, what would women and men tell each other?

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