Sure, Barney Stinson has moved on to ‘Pharma Girls’ but the elegance associated with airhostesses will never die. In this feature, EXEC pays homage to the glamour queens of the skies, through the ages
Some of the world’s most iconic fashion designers across the ages have been roped in by airlines to design crew uniforms. The list includes Feroze Cowasji, Pierre Cardin, Sir Hardy Amies and Nahid Azfar who designed PIA uniforms. Christian Lacroix has brought the styles from the ramps of Paris to the aisles of Air France flights and Julien Macdonald of Givenchy is the man behind the British Airways uniform. Celebrity designer from Los Angeles, Richard Tyler, presented Delta Airline’s new look as part of his collection at New York Fashion Week. Italian designer Gianfranco Ferre launched the Korean Air uniform while Pierre Balmain gave the world ‘The Singapore Girl’. Rajesh Pratap Singh is responsible for adding a bit of chic and lots of oomph to IndiGo’s current uniforms. Both, Australian fashion guru Peter Morrissey and Emilio Pucci have designed uniforms for Qantas Airways at one point.
Dawn Of Feminity
Initially, many uniforms had a summer and winter version, differentiated by colours and fabrics appropriate to the season: navy blue for winter, for example, khaki for summer. But as the role of women in the air grew, and airline companies began to realise the publicity value of their stewardesses, more feminine lines and colours began to appear in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Some airlines began to commission designs from high-end department stores and still others called in noted designers or even milliners to create distinctive and attractive apparel.
Capturing the Market
In the 1960s and 1970s, many airlines began advertising the attractiveness and friendliness of their stewardesses. National Airlines began a “Fly Me” campaign using attractive stewardesses with taglines such as “I’m Lorraine. Fly me to Orlando”(A low budget 1973 film about three flight attendants, Fly Me, starring Lenore Kasdorf, was based on the ad campaign). Braniff International Airways, presented a campaign known as the “Air Strip” with similarly attractive young stewardesses changing uniforms mid-flight. A policy of at least one airline required that only unmarried women could be flight attendants. Flight attendant Roz Hanby became a minor celebrity when she became the face of British Airways in their “Fly the Flag” advertising campaign over a 7 year period in the 1980s. Singapore Airlines is currently one of the few airlines still choosing to use the image of their stewardesses, known as Singapore Girls, in their advertising material. However, this is starting to be phased out, in favour of advertising which emphasises the modernity of their fleet.
Reflecting the military aviation background of many commercial aviation pioneers, several early flight attendant uniforms had a strongly military appearance; hats, jackets, and skirts showed simple straight lines and military details like epaulettes and brass buttons.