In recent months, redesigning airline uniforms appears to have become the next frontier for highbrow designers looking to creatively spice up their workloads (and paychecks). While Prabal Gurung snazzes up All Nippon Airways’s crew outfits, Dame Vivienne Westwood will be crafting uniforms for Virgin Atlantic that promise to be ecofriendly and “futuristic.”
For those impatient to lock eyes on the new uniforms — or just rabid fans of anything remotely related to chic air travel — a new book by author Keith Lovegrove, Airline: Style at 30,000 Feet, will satisfy those desires. Set to be released on September 10, the book documents the changes in fashion, dining, design, and identity of international airlines since the twenties. The book is stuffed with 250 illustrations, which include a range of uniforms worn by flight attendants and snapshots of first-class passengers dressed up in furs and enjoying “cocktail hour” in the fifties. The first-ever uniform for female flight attendants? According to Lovegrove, it consisted of ” just-below-the-knee A-line skirts, double-breasted jackets, soft cloth hats, and very sensible shoes.” It’s unfortunate that perky cloth hats have managed to slip away from modern airline uniforms — perhaps Westwood or Gurung will bring them back. In the meantime, click through to enjoy high-fashion flying from decades past.