During the Spanish era when women’s speech seemed too prudish and reserved, every movement of the body was believed to betray a promise. The hand fan or the abanico served as a medium for expression. With it, every trivial gesture became a revelation of sorts—and it’s up to the gents to decipher hidden meanings. Ambiguity held an exquisite mystique and so a woman with a fan wielded a powerful enchantment.
Such customs, of course, receded along with the passing of the Spanish period; yet the lapse of time did not strip the abanico of its powerful allure. Casa Mercedes, Inc., the oldest fan factory in the country, sustains the richness of this charming token of the past, and to prevent it from simply being a remembrance harking back to a lost time, the company chose to reinvent the piece. Monchet y Cia, the bespoke line designed by Monchet Diokno-Olives, features handmade fans rich with classic embellishments yet assuming unique contemporary forms.
The company began with Mercedes “Edeng” Diokno-Rovira, who learned the art of making hand fans on her trips to Madrid. The company continues to rework wood and silk, and on the redesigned little canvas, contemporary sensibility finds expression. The abanico has captured and expressed the allure of the changing times. Modern Filipino iconography—food, tourist attractions, and pets—now inspire the cruise collection of Monchet y Cia. Reminiscent of its significance in Spanish times, the abanico once again draws attention to the ordinary and renders it captivating. Queen Sofia of Spain and celebrity Sarah Jessica Parker are only two among the many who now hold pieces from this modern line—a series of hand fans compelling women to make a statement.
148 G. Reyes St. San Juan City
Writer: PRISTINE L. DE LEON