Thursday, November 14, 2013

Photo Essay: Flight Crew Fashion of a Bygone Era

These aren't just uniforms.



This is sky-high fashion.



In days long gone, flight crew - particularly the attendants - were dressed to the hilt...



...even when the flight attendants were just "stewardesses"...



...and even when all the stewardesses were actually registered nurses.



At the Flight Path Learning Center Museum, you can view a staggering array of historic flight crew uniforms...



...both male and female...



...including those flight pins I used to be so obsessed with as a kid, long before I ever took flight.



In fact, as chic as these vintage fashions are...



...it's hard to avoid their branding...



...sometimes only on the lapel...



...sometimes in the color scheme...



...but often with the accessories, like a necktie...



...or a neck scarf...





...or a hat medallion...







...or one of those glorious pins.



Flight Path's collection recalls the heyday of aviation...



...featuring many now-defunct airlines...



...some still familiar...



...some I'd never heard of...



...all with their unique iconography...



...worn with pride by their trusted servants...



...up in the air...



...and on the ground.



And these particular uniforms aren't anonymous, generic, warehouse overstock...



...they belonged to real people who wore them and worked in them.



The museum also includes a few pieces from LA's own airport history...



...including some items from the LA airport's police force.



The most dazzling of the displays are the retrofuturistic examples of costuming...



...including firefighter gear from the Ontario Airport (also served by the Los Angles Airport Police)...



...to the French Theme Paper Dress for TWA "air hostesses" in 1968...



...to the United Airlines version of uniforms circa 2095, as envisioned by their uniform vendor at the time, Brookhurst - a bit Star Trek meets Xanadu.

There are loads of other costumes on racks in the back, protected under plastic, hung on hangers instead of mannequins. Seeing all these decades of air travel at a glance, I wondered when our flight crew stopped being fashion icons. I can only recall the flight attendant outfits of a couple of airlines, on a couple of flights that I've taken (namely Virgin Atlantic, New York to/from London), but maybe that's because the uniforms are of that time, so we notice them less.

Or maybe we stopped aspiring to air travel. We stopped dressing for flight and started taking our shoes off. We spilled our crumbs and let our babies wail. And our attendants went from being nurses to hostesses to maids and babysitters.

Related Posts:
Photo Essay: The Planes of LAX's Flight Path Learning Center Museum