Pierre Cardin and the Airline Connection

Happy New Year!  I’m kicking off 2021 with a short post about the late Pierre Cardin’s connection to this flight attendant uniform, circa 1966. Well, he designed the outfit, so it’s more than just a connection.

This image is from Pinterest. I don’t know the name embedded at the top right. The new cabin crew uniforms are pictured on models who seem to be posing in Paris in 1966.

Back in 1966 Cardin designed the flight attendant uniform for PIA (Pakistan International Airlines) – it was groundbreaking in style, and a hit at airport terminals. I remember PIA employees talking about how they were admiringly “mobbed” at airports. 

I apologize for the blurred picture. The source can be seen at the bottom of the image. Note: there are vertical welt pockets close to the side seams.

The new PIA uniform was also remarkable in the effect it had on attire of the young female demographic of Pakistan in 1966. I was 16, and this was a breath of fresh air.  My friends and I lapped up the style lines and it changed our style preferences for the next few fashion cycles. We wanted to wear everything those flight attendants were wearing — the thigh length tunic and the narrow pants became our fashion du jour for the next few years. We ignored the hood, though; we wore our duppattas (scarves) around our necks, or not at all.  Sorry, any old pictures of myself from the 60s are in groups and I do not want to violate my friends’ privacy. Yeah, I’m sort of vigilant about that.

However, here is a publicly shared image of Kate Middleton, future Queen of England in the same style lines she wore on her visit to Pakistan — more than 50 years later!! Things do come around, and I am finding myself wearing the same 1966 silhouette in the 21st century — regardless of age issues such as greying hair and all that.

You can see the design credit in the caption. A gorgeous look for sewers and embroiderers to emulate!

The PIA cabin crew uniform has gone through many changes, and has a different look right now.  Below is the current version — in a tweet by the designer. Not groundbreaking but okay.

Scrolling through this 2015 article shows uniforms over the years: PIA on the Cusp of a Fashion Makeover . It was fun for me to see the earliest and the current uniforms; I had no idea that the first PIA uniform was a skirt suit in tweed.

Want more trivia? Cardin designed those iconic collarless suits for the Beatles as well as astronaut suits for the Apollo 11 crew. Here is a Vogue article recapping just some of Cardin’s career.

Cardin lived for 98 very productive and fashionably consequential years. May he Rest in Peace.

Have a great 2021, and let’s look out for each other…..

Samina

6 thoughts on “Pierre Cardin and the Airline Connection

  1. Thank you for this post!
    I worked in a sewing factory in the early 1980s, sewing Pierre Cardin
    Men’s Bath Robes. It was one of the best design
    jobs I have had – I learned so much from the designers, they
    liked sharing their Art – that makes a nice place to work.
    I remember seeing these images on big posters
    in the lunchroom of these beautiful Airline Uniforms.
    I’m never too tired to walk down memory lane!
    Thank you again,
    Cheryl

    Like

  2. Thank you for this most enjoyable article and the link to the Vogue article. IMO, the first PIA uniforms were the loveliest, although the hood may have become annoying, requiring frequent adjustment. The hats in the current uniform look odd, although they do add to the impression of a “uniform.”

    Like

    1. I remember traveling on the airline during the time this uniform was being worn. After takeoff the flight attendants would pull back the hood, then pull it up again on landing. There might be some kind of anchor on the top of the hood which kept it in place — because it always stayed put on these girls even in windy weather!!

      Like

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