تحلق في الموضة
- 30 سبتمبر, 2016
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When I’m working in uniform, I sometimes wonder how it has evolved over the past century. I joined KLM as a cabin attendant in 2002 and have had the pleasure of wearing two different uniforms since then. The first was the updated Nina Ricci design, which was later replaced by the current Mart Visser uniform. In this blog, I’d like to celebrate my love of vintage clothes and fashion by flying down memory lane to revisit KLM uniforms of bygone years.
Catwalk in the sky
It was wonderful diving into the history of KLM uniforms, guided by my colleague Cliff Muskiet, who is a KLM purser and uniform fanatic. Since 1993, Cliff has collected no fewer than 1,575 (!) women’s uniforms issued by 563 different airlines worldwide. He has had the honour of exhibiting a selection of his uniforms at the prestigious Kunsthal in Rotterdam. On 3 September, he organised a very special ode to the KLM uniform, transforming the aisle of an aircraft into a catwalk aboard flight KL645 from Amsterdam to New York. The uniforms were modelled by seven crew members, who gave passengers a high-altitude, historical review of KLM uniforms from 1957 to the present day.
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Cliff’s collection includes almost every KLM uniform designed since 1957. When we met to discuss the uniforms, he really brought them to life. It really was very inspiring to see and touch some of the pieces in his collection. So… Let’s fly back in time as we prepare to head into the future.
From 1919 to World War II
KLM is preparing to celebrate its 100th anniversary, which means it’s the oldest airline in the world still operating under its original name. We were founded on 7 October 1919, but it wasn’t until 1934 that KLM appointed its first onboard steward, Theo Boyeng. KLM recruited its first stewardesses in 1935.
Little is known about the first two women’s uniforms, but we know they were black, like the men’s. The lapel of the double-breasted jacket bore the words “air hostess”. The jacket was worn over a plain white blouse, accessorised with a small tie and a beret to top it off.
Around 1937, just before World War II, the women’s uniform was exchanged for something resembling a business suit with slight adjustments. The jacket was no longer double-breasted, but now had a single button. The lapel still bore the words “air hostess”, but the beret was replaced by a small hat.
The 1970s got off to a great start with KLM introducing the sky blue we still wear today. The uniform, introduced in 1971, was created by a group of designers at the Fashion Academy in Arnhem, who were connected to the Konersmann company in Amsterdam.
Stewardesses were given more choices in those days: a sleeveless dress or pinafore with buttons. The uniform also included a jacket, blouse, serving dress, overcoat and a new model hat. This “Feel Sure” range was made of Trevira 2000, which was one of the popular, easy-to-clean, synthetic materials of the era. You could wash and hang-dry it. No ironing required. Uniform design was clearly gradually shifting from made-to-measure to off-the-peg.
While quite a number of airlines took 1960s fashion on board, including miniskirts and hot pants, KLM maintained strict uniform and hairstyle regulations. Skirts were to be worn to the knee and not above. The bright-yellow scarf added a gorgeous accent to the KLM-blue uniform.
Fun fact: KLM blue was introduced to the fleet with the arrival of the DC10 in 1972.
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