Sunday, 11 October 2015

AIR FRANCE: THE LEGACY AND THE FUTURE

I recently attended the exclusive sky-high evening reception at Altitude on the 29th floor of Millbank Tower with the lovely Keyta Hawkins to celebrate Air France's Legacy and Future.
The evening started off with some wine and delicious canapes, and we also had some little chocolate samples from La Maison Du Chocolat.

Chocolates from La Maison Du Chocolat

Chocolates from La Maison Du Chocolat

And of course we could not resist going to have a little sneak preview backstage...

A little sneak peak backstage...

Twins!

Here's us doing what bloggers do...


(Grainy) night view of London


Having a bit of a moment in the spotlight before the show...



It was soon time for the highlight of the evening: a showcase of vintage uniforms created by world-renowned designers, ranging from 1933 to the present day.

Opening speech

 At the end of the 1920s, Air France transformed their aircraft into bars and high class restaurants and called on former employees of high class hotels and transatlantic liners to provide a quality service, as a way to attract new passengers. This is when the first "uniforms" appeared on board.
The term "steward" was only used from 1938 onwards to designate an entirely new profession in this post-war period.
There were two versions of the steward's uniforms which combined a military style with that of a luxury hotel chain.
One was made up of a white jacket with a high collar and matching trousers and cap, whilst the other was composed of navy blue trousers and a white double-breasted jacket, worn over a white shirt with a wing collar and a bow tie, also with a navy blue cap.


In 1946, Air France recruited its first air hostesses, mainly from the French army and Red Cross auxiliary services. 
The first uniform was designed by the fashion house Georgette Renal, the style still maintaining a heavy military influence marked by the Occupation era. The suit was made of dark blue wool twill and was worn with a white poplin blouse. It was made up of a long jacket with rounded skirts and a skirt with two wide front pleats. The felt beret was decorated with the Air France symbol, the winged seahorse, embroidered in silver thread, worn slanted to one side, in the Red Cross style.


Air France later abandoned the military style of the early years to accompany a new era of elegance, where the fashion house Georgette de Trèze was chosen to modernize the uniform and appearance of its air hostesses, reflecting the spirit of the 1950s. The suit introduced a more feminine look for the hostesses, with a figure-hugging waist, soft shoulders and narrow skirt for an hourglass figure look, worn with a buttoned white poplin blouse with a round collar. The beret was a more subtle affair, and the breast insignia abandoned the laurel leaves for wings, in alignment with the steward's uniforms. 
This was the first time air hostesses had a winter and summer version of the same suit.



In 1957, Air France chose to include a uniform that would only be used on board flights to hot destinations, including North Africa. Designed by Ellie Chetrit, it was named Saharienne, which referred to the Sahara desert, and was originally, from the end of the 19th century, a military outfit made of either cotton or linen, worn by the British army in India or by the Afrikakorps. After it lost its military use, it was mainly worn by people going on safari and became popular from 1930. In the 1950s, it was widely used in movies, and in 1953, Ava Gardner made it an item of fashion reference in John Ford's Mogambo. Having undergone a transformation by Yves Saint Laurent from Spring/Summer 1967, the Saharienne which was now short, sexy and worn with a belt, became the manifesto for women's independence and started the revolution women's attire.



As the Airline's image became associated with prestigious names in fashion design, the uniform needed to be adapted so as not to interfere with body movements whilst still preserving elegance and sophistication - a challenge taken up by the famous fashion house Christian Dior, under the artistic direction of Marc Bohan in 1963. 
Worn on board the Caravelle, ths light blue terylene summer dress was worn with a flat tie belt and a pill box cap wih light blue overstitching. The winter suit was made of "Marceau" blue canvas and comprised of a short jacket, with a Claudine collar that revealed the bow of a white blouse, worn with a dark blue moleskin pill box cap decorated with the Air France badge.
This new uniform received an enthusiastic response from the media, which sealed the collaboration between Air France and the fashion industry.




In 1969, Air France chose fashion designer Balenciaga to design a new set of outfits. 
The summer suit was made of terylene and wool "flame" in two colours: light blue and light pink, worn with a dark blue overstitched forage cap. The dark blue bow at the neckline, known as a "hatter", concealed the double buttoning under the collar.
The winter suit was made of dark blue twill wool, completed by a satin moleskin forage cap with visor, worn tilted on the front.
This was also the first time that Air France provided accessories to be worn with the outfits, such as the Darchamps navy blue kid leather boots.



In 1976, Air France entered the supersonic era, by inaugurating the Paris-Dakar-Rio service with the Concorde. To mark this prestigious event, Air France commissioned the fashion house Jean Patou to create an exclusive new uniform for the Concorde air hostesses. Designed by artistic designer Angelo Tarlazzi, the imitation silk polyester jersey was adorned with navy blue and beige stripes, the first pattern on the Air France uniform. The dress was tied with a belt which produced the effect of a fake two-piece suit.


In 1978, for the first time, Air France staff were asked their opinions when designing the new uniform, which comprised of coordinated outfits designed by the fashion houses Grès, Carven and Ricci. The pill box cap was abandoned and the traditional Air France blue and white colours were enhanced by Tyrolean red.
Nina Ricci's artistic director, Gérard Pipart, designed the navy blue winter suit, which comprised of a jacket with revers collar worn with a blue and white hound's-tooth patterned blouse, and a flared skirt fastened with a leather belt with a nickel buckle featuring the letters "AF". 
This was also the first time that skirts could be worn without the jacket.
 

"The Fregate" was designed in 1987 by Carven, a shirtdress made from navy wool crepe with a white collar and sleeve lapels, floppy necktie and a satin breast pocket which were striped blue and white.
This summer uniform complemented two other uniforms worn along the year: the "Quatuor" winter suit in navy wool crepe and the "Dauphin" sping/autumn suit made from lighter wool crepe.


Air France sought three different designers when redesigning the uniform in 1987: Nina Ricci, Carven and Louis Féraud. The summer shirtdress which was designed by Louis Féraud was made of a blend of cotton and polyester, and existed in blue, pale yellow and pink, with a floppy necktie and satin breast pocket, striped blue, pink and straw colour.


In 1997, due to lack of resources and time, a "combined" uniform was created, bringing together outfits from Air France and Air Inter.
The two Ricci fashion house creations were the dress and summer suit, existing in three colours - blue nattier, red and navy blue. Carven's spring and autumn season suit was made of navy blue crepe and could be made up of a skirt or pleated trousers.


After 17 years without any dramatic changes, Air France chose Christian Lacroix to redesign the cabin crew's entire uniform in 2005. Over a hundred pieces were created which can be mixed and matched together, and are the ones that are currently worn by the Air France crew on board their flights. The look is Parisian, chic and classic, whereby the predominant colour is navy blue, grey blue to add softness, and just a hint of red. The air hostesses wear a pattern inspired by the seahorse and enhanced by fluffy lace, which is typical of his elegant designs. The ribbed stitching characterizing the uniform emphasizes the cuts of the clothes and accessories.



We also got to try out the Business Class seat after...




A rather fun and glamorous evening that I would not mind reliving.
Thank you Air France, and I look forward to flying with you soon in the near future.

The Cheekster, signing out x

*Information and un-captioned photos were provided, courtesy of Air France

 









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