Fashion In Flight: A Photo Album

Fashion In Flight: A Photo Album

Aviation Museum & Library

Sep 16, 2016 - Oct 15, 2017

Fashion In Flight
A Photo Album

From the hiring of the world’s first airline stewardess in 1930—which took place in San Francisco—the flight attendant uniform has been documented in photographs ranging from the formal to the impromptu. These photographs on view are largely examples of the more formal type of image where the subjects are posed for individual or group shots.

The launch of a new uniform collection by a famous fashion house, which often coincides with the introduction of new larger, faster, and more luxurious aircraft, is seen as a major promotional opportunity among airlines. Many designers arrange fashion shows to debut their creations for their airline client. Still photography of crewmembers modeling the new outfits remains an essential component of accompanying advertising campaigns. Over the decades, when taken collectively, these types of images have become an authoritative resource for study and research. They reveal in detail how uniform design evolved and how the garments were worn, including the styling options for accessories such as hats, head coverings, outerwear, gloves, handbags, scarves, neckwear, footwear, and wing insignia.

Certain patterns emerge in the formal quality and composition of these photographs. The airfield group shot in front of an airplane or on the “air stairs” of the boarding gangway is a predominant arrangement. Other exterior views include the wing-top pose and, as jet aircraft grew larger, the staging of crewmembers in the engine nacelle. Interior shots include airport terminals and onboard cabin views where uniformed personnel demonstrate the services and inviting amenities awaiting the passenger. 

©2016 by the San Francisco Airport Commission. All rights reserved.