20130722 Christina Aguilera keeps cool with Israel’s Fancy Hand Fans

Christina Aguilera keeps cool with Fancy Hand Fan

    A former PR exec is reviving hand fans as urban chic, and her designs caught the eye of superstar Aguilera.
  • A fan to suit every mood. Photo by Benny Doutsh
    Once upon a time –– back in the 1800s –– women in the West were not permitted to go out without a chaperone. But by using a hand fan they were able to communicate any sort of gesture to a potential suitor: I am interested, let’s meet outside, or I am single were some of many expressions a decorative hand fan could convey.
    Air conditioning and new trends have come along since, but air con doesn’t work at outdoor cafes during steamy Tel Aviv summers. One local resident had an old-new idea for urban chic, and her Fancy Hand Fans are a hot new trend.  
    Since creating her designer hand fan company in Tel Aviv three years ago, Sharon Jerusalmy’s products have already made it to the big time: on the popular American TV show “The Voice,” mentor and superstar singer Christina Aguilera chose three styles of Fancy Hand Fans as her signature accessory last winter.
    The handmade wood-and-cotton fans were first spotted in Aguilera’s hands by Jerusalmy while she was surfing online. She then looked through her orders on the popular crafters’ website Etsy and noticed a purchase order made by Aguilera’s stylist.
    Spotted on ‘The Voice’
    “During the [four] episodes that aired during the November to December time, her gimmick on ‘The Voice’ was her hand fans,” boasts Jerusalmy, who continues to sell the limited-edition items on Etsy and through retailers all over Israel. The hand fans used by Aguilera are still in circulation, including the Stay Cool, Look Hot model.

    Christian Aguilera put Israel’s Fancy Hand Fans in the public eye.
    Photo courtesy of Christina Aguilera's FB page by Trae Patton/NBC

    Jerusalmy doesn’t stock her fans in stores during the winter because she wants the item to remain a fresh must-have item during the warm months, she says.
    It was during a hot summer a few years ago when Jerusalmy was sitting at a coffee shop with her daughter that the fan idea came to life. At 49, she had quit her job six months before. It was hot that day, and the women were using their menus as improvised fans. Jerusalmy suddenly realized that this could be a great item to bring back in style. And, she notes, hand fans are an ecological way of cooling off in the summer months.
    A fan of fans
    Jerusalmy was born in Manchester, England, and immigrated to Israel in 1980 with her French husband, a writer. She had been working in the public relations field for high tech companies except for a stint of seven years in Belgium. Back in Israel already for 10 years, she decided four years ago it was time for a career switch. “I was looking out the window of the 24th floor and felt that right now I needed to do something else.”
    She decided to revive the fan as a fashion accessory. “It’s a beautiful, romantic object. I worked hard trying to brand it,” she says. After learning about fan culture, she included illustrations of how-to gestures on her website.
    Fancy Fans was built step by step. At first she started out with 10 designs. “I was thinking of designs that would suit the season and went from there. Now I have 27 designs, and it’s a small business.”
    When you can’t be in air conditioning. Photo by Benny Doutsh
    When you can’t be in air conditioning. Photo by Benny Doutsh
    Her late mother-in-law left behind a wonderful collection of vintage hand fans, which provided inspiration for the designs: some retro, animal print or with text. All designs are original.
    “People ask me, ‘Why should I spend $20 on a hand fan when I can find another one in a store for $1?’ I tell them it’s just like buying bracelets: You can find one for $1 or one for $75. But that’s not the point.
    “Fans are something that people have to become aware of from a fashion point of view. For me, I just want to revive this object and see it come into being once again.”