In a bright salute to modernism, Palm Springs Life photographer Michael Childers set out to capture the glamour and style of the good ol’ days of air travel. With the help of Chelsea Marketeers, owners of a collection of Pucci flight attendant uniforms for Braniff Airlines, collaborated with Childers and wardrobe stylist Marlene Blackwell for this photo shoot at Riviera Palm Springs that incorporates contemporary fashion, as well.
Airways Classics: A Global Review of Commercial Flight recently offered the following account of the making of Braniff’s design makeover for the jet set.
While at Continental Airlines, Harding Lawrence met Mary Berg Wells, a 36-year-old, advertising executive with Jack Tinker & Associates in New York, which the airline hired to help promote its planned supersonic transports. Although the flights never became a reality, Wells impressed Lawrence. After he moved to Braniff, Lawrence hired her to introduce “color, flair and surprise to air travel.”
She enlisted Alexander Girard, a Santa Fe, N.M., architect and artist, to redesign everything from ticket offices and gate interiors to airplane exteriors.
And she contracted Italian fashion designer Emilio Pucci to create new uniforms for the entire public-contact staff. The project was called “The end of the plain plane” and became a rousing success.
Pucci’s first season of in-flight wear — presented in July 1965 and called Gemini 4 after NASA’s Gemini IV mission the previous month — included the plastic “space bubble” intended to preserve flight attendants’ hair from the wind, rain, and snow.
Pucci’s first uniform for domestic cabin crew comprised four ensembles: a reversible coat, a suit, a serving dress, and a two-piece of blouse and culotte. These items were peeled off in a sequence promoted as the “Air Strip.”
For summer 1966, Pucci added sleek stretch leotards in a geometric print of pinks, blues, purple, red, and mauve. Designed to symbolize all of the nations served by Braniff, this print became known as “Ports of Call.”
Pucci IV pink flight wear included matching scarves and umbrellas.
In 1977, Braniff unveiled a new cabin interior featuring Argentine leather-covered seats designed by Halston, promoted as “The Ultra Look of Leather” (Halston’s favorite material was a synthetic fabric called “ultrasuede”). To match the interiors, flight attendants changed their wardrobe to more simple and elegant uniforms from the same designer, ending a 12-year tradition of Pucci The new palette was bone, tan, taupe, and brown.