Friday, May 15, 2009

Vintage Airlines: Come Fly With Me.

It’s true. I’m obsessed with vintage travel. I love old suitcases, vintage travel posters, retro airports—and I love love love old stewardess uniforms (yeah yeah, I know…“flight attendants”). Back in the day flying was much more glamorous. It was an event. People were genuinely impressed (“WOW! We’re FLYING through the air in a metal ship!!”) You got dressed up to board a plane and wore "travel clothes". You ate food on real china. You didn’t have to pay for drinks. You were a jetsetter. And stewardesses (please indulge me with the old school name) were like super models. Becoming a stew was considered an honor and dating one was something of a status symbol.

Of course I know it wasn't all sunshine and roses (the ladies had to maintain strict weight requirements and "grooming standards" in order to fly—not to mention leering drunkards pinching their pert lil booties). But at its most basic, it was a pretty glamorous lifestyle. My favorite "vintage" airlines are Braniff, Pan Am and PSA. Lemme show you why.

First up, BRANIFF. These guys had it going on. In 1965 they came up with a campaign called “The end of the plain plane” and famously hired Alexander Girard to paint the planes in candy colors. Of course the reason I love them is that they also hired Italian snazzer Emilio Pucci to redesign all the uniforms their Air Hostesses wore. Honestly….the space bubble?

In the 70s they even had Alexander Calder paint a design on the planes to make them even more whimsical and fun. Oh Braniff, how we miss you.

Next up, PAN AM

These guys have, quite possibly the best logo in aviation. I have a clear memory of flying on Pan Am to Europe with my parents in the 70s. For some reason it has always represented the ultimate in classy travel to me. Back in the 90s I scored a Pan Am flight bag at the thrift store and its always been one of my treasured possessions. 

PSA (or Pacific Southwest Airline) was the total swingin’ 60s airline. I discovered their crazy go-go stewardess uniforms many years ago and was forever hooked. Mini skirts with hot pants, wee hats (!!) and sassy boots. I love it all. 

A far cry form the khaki shorts and polo shirts flight attendants wear these days. I know we're all about "being comfortable" these days and most travelers wear sweats and sneaks or (shudder) flip flops, showing off grotty toes. We bemoan the delays and try to cram colossal rolling suitcases into the overhead bin. But every now and then I'll spy an older couple on a flight, beautifully dressed, sitting serenely. And I know they remember. To them, air travel is still a miracle of modern science. An exciting adventure. I always try to catch their eye and smile, as if to say "hey, I remember too."

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  1. gorgeous!

    tell me... they didn't really wear the bubble helmets. did they?

  2. Awesome stuff here. LOVE the stewardess outfits! And I now know how to spell grotty (which I haven't heard since the 70's I think)
    You are a cutie.

  3. oh good, glad you guys liked this! ms pooka, I believe the did indeed wear the bubble when it was "raining" (not, like, on the plane itself....althought THAT would have been amazing!!)
    This woman was a "stewardess" back in the day at Braniff and has a cool collection!

  4. I am so obsessed with vintage stewardess outfits!!! I heard singapore airlines has really cute outfits still. love it, thanks for sharing!

  5. ps. i had no idea you worked on all those amazing campaigns. i'm kind of in awe now... ;)

  6. sooo fab, have you seen the album cover for Dave Pike - Jazz for the Jet Set, which has a Pucci bedecked Pan Am stewardess on the cover!

  7. Ahhhh!!!! Those were the days to fly. [Not that I remember]

  8. Okay I love this post. I keep coming back to it. They look like, around 30,000 feet, they'd start doing that Walk It Out Fosie You-Tube video in the aisle with their beverage carts.

  9. misslynsey: aw thank you!

    smashingbird: NO! But Jazz for the Jet Set sounds like my kinda album!! Woo hoo!!

    Marketa New York: Hey lady!!!! Nice to see you!!! (and yeah, i wish I was around for those days too!!)

    decor8:'s sooooo Fosse!!!!!!! Have you seen the remix where they have the Fosie ladies dancing to Beyonce's Single Ladies??

  10. This post made me so happy!
    I didn't fly in the days of Pan-Am, but my mom worked for them at one point.
    I always loved all her old Pan-Am memorabilia & I wish I could dress like their stewardesses.
    I also know what you mean about how people dress. I grew up flying stand-by, so I always dressed up to get on a plane. Now people barely get dressed at all!
    Thanks for making my day!

  11. what a cute little posting darling!
    i am also digging those 60's tarts.