Flights of Fancy

you bastards I can FLY that plane let me out of here

This picture is totally my situation right now. Except instead  of that particular dress I am wearing sweats and  a Plastic Ono Band t-shirt. And my hair is messier. And instead of gazing out onto the desert landscape of of a faraway nation I am gazing out at the dirty snowbanks of Clinton Heights, Brooklyn, where I am trapped due to a snowstorm that isn’t even here yet. Virgin America is just canceling flights just in case. Which means I am overstaying my welcome at my dear friend’s home, drinking the coffee I had bought her as a thank you gift and fearing my dwindling supply of psych meds. And dreaming about an alternate life where I can fly around freely in glamorous company. To the soundtrack of people diligently scraping ice from the sidewalk outside, I will scroll through some lovely air travel fashion.

Ooh la la!

I know that whenever something is French I caption it Ooh la la, but this time I mean it. Cristobal Balenciaga designed these Air France uniforms back in the golden age of air travel when Stewardesses got to wear couture as they got their asses grabbed by debonair douchbags.


Coffee, Tea or LSD?

I don’t know who designed these Delta Airlines uniform in the 70s, but they sure are groovy.


best ever

Korean Air’s uniforms are amazing. The stewardesses all wear these little bows in the back of their hair, I saw a trio of them hustle-bustling through SFO once and felt a hushed awe fall over me. They looked like they were in a fashion show! Of course they did, Gianfranco Ferre designed their uniforms! Check it:

Couldn’t you just die? They’re so elegant and chic and just the tiniest bit space-age, serving us fierce aspirational futurism! I love their scarves, how they look sort of windblown. These ladies fly for a living! That’s magical.


Pucci for Girls!

Emilio Pucci designed a bunch of zany uniforms for Braniff International back in the 60s. I love the weird pill box hat / Polish babushka thing happening here. And those boots are wild. I feel like a stewardess would get fired today if she tried to express herself with such footwear! We’ve really gone backwards, as a planet.

More Pucci for Braniff! Don’t they sort of look like Hot Dog on a Stick go-go dancers?

Do you think this progression of images tracks Emilio Pucci’s descent into madness? Was this man an Aquarius? Let me check – nope, Scorpio. A Scorpio did this. Put stewardesses into psychedelic dresses with matching leggings that, what, go straight down into boots? I love the top hat – bowler hybrid headgear. Mary.

And finally, he designed this little head-bubble so a lady wouldn’t get her hair all mussed-up on the tarmac. Thoughtful.


can't stop won't stop

Okay, back to the future and the future is NOW. These woman work for Martinair. That is one fussy fucking work uniform. I love it! Belts and buttons and a scarf and a classic little hat. I think they need a brooch or something, don’t you?

The Emirates uniform is super cute! Know what’s not cute, tho? Getting busted sexting with your Emirates co-worker and thrown in the slammer for three months. Three months! In the slammer! For sexting! Get it together Dubai, sext messaging is a victimless crime!

People are nuts about these Balmain-designed Singapore Airlines uniforms, but you know what? I’m not impressed.


Donatella Airlines

Fuck a uniform – Donatella Versace designed a plane. Sexy!

Pierre Cardin designed these super cute uniforms for Pakistan International, an airline with a history of seriously stylish stewardesses. Check out their 70s ensemble, designed by Queen Elizabeth’s royal dressmaker!

H2T! Those pants are so cute! And the bags!


mama mia

This ad is tripping me out! Is it playing on the Oedipal Complexes of 60s men or what? She’s all smoldering and intense and looks like she hates you but she’s like, your mom! Don’t you want to have sex with her? Whoa! There is some deep and twisted psychology at play in this campaign. The American way indeed.


designer imposters

Why, these women aren’t stewardesses – they’re prostitutes! Japan Airlines are freaking out because they just laid off a bunch of people and they’re afraid their fetishized uniforms are going to fall into the wrong hands! Stewardess-play is big in Japanese sex clubs, and authentic JAL uniforms go for thousands of dollars on the black market. I used to make my Barbies be slutty stewardesses when I was like 12, so I get it. I appreciate people going to such lengths to guarantee an authentic fantasy experience.

Some final images for your consideration:

Jean-Charles de Castelbajac’s stewardess-inspired SS2011

Hussein Chalayan’s airplane dress, using airplane materials + technology

Balenciaga Resort 2011: Lady Gaga, Stewardess

Mr. Lagerfeld at the airport

What do I have to do to get out of here??????????


About Michelle Tea

I chanted "I am a fashion magnet" in the shower and subsequently found a Gianni Versace - era Versace skirt at Buffalo Exchange for $17. Once I got a beyond-my-means Fendi purse for free and sat staring at it, crying. Also cried at Olivier Theyskens' last show for Nina Ricci in Paris. Other things that make me cry: a good lip synch; my emotions. I have stolen two Jeremy Scott swag items from two Jeremy Scott events I was not quite invited to. Sometimes I want to age into Patti Smith, sometimes Baby Jane Hudson. I frequently dream I am in a magic thrift store where I can have whatever I want. I regret not buying the Alexander Wang purse when it was half price at Barney's. Like a delusional guy at a strip club, I feel special when the people who work at Barney's remember me. Having a Leo rising gives me big hair and a need for attention. My favorite designers right now are Alexander Wang, Philip Lim, Proenza Schouler, Vivienne Westwood, Viktor Rolf, Rick Owens, Rodarte, Helmut Lang and Surface to Air. I was once shamed by an employee of a high-end department store for pronouncing 'Rodarte' incorrectly.

One comment

  1. Love this! Being a flight attendant seems like one of the worst possible jobs to me, alwasy the same except for when there’s a catastrophe, now looking back at the cool clothes they used to be able to wear and I really don’t understand why anyone wants to do it.

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