Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Braniff Airlines Pucci Display in Palm Springs

During Modernism week a fantastic collection of Pucci and Halston Braniff Airines stewardess uniforms was on display at the Riviera Hotel in Palm Springs. Though not entirely interior design related, Braniff Airlines wanted to create an visually uniform experience for its customers, a revolutionary approach to airlines which is now common practice in business.

The collection is available on ebay with an opening bid of $250K.

A little background on Braniff Airlines from Wikipedia:

To overhaul the Braniff image Lawrence hired Jack Tinker Associates, who assigned advertising executive Mary Wells as account leader. First on the agenda was to overhaul Braniff's public image — including the red, white, and blue livery which they perceived as "staid" (although, "The El Dorado Super Jet" Braniff livery from 1959 had won design awards). New Mexico architect Alexander Girard, Italian fashion designer Emilio Pucci, and shoe designer Beth Levine were called in, and with this new creative talent, Braniff began the "End of the Plain Plane" campaign.

At Girard's recommendation, the old livery was dropped in flavor of planes painted in a single color, selected from a wide palette of bright hues. Girard wanted the planes painted from tail to nose in colors like "Chocolate Brown" and "Metallic Purple." He also favored a small "BI" distinctive logo and small titles. Braniff engineering and Braniff's advertising department modified Girard's colors, enlarged the "BI" logo, and added white wings and tails. This, ironically, was based on the 1930s Braniff "Vega" Schemes, which also carried colorful aircraft paint with white wings and tails. The new "jelly bean" fleet consisted of such bold colors as beige, ochre, orange, turquoise, baby blue, medium blue, lemon yellow, and lavender (lavender was dropped after one month, as lavender and black were considered bad luck in Mexico). Girard also outfitted the interiors with 57 different variations of Herman Miller fabrics. 15 colors were used by Braniff for plane exteriors during the 1960s (Harper & George modified Girard's original seven colors in 1968). Many of the color schemes were applied to aircraft interiors, gate lounges, ticket offices, and even the corporate headquarters. Art to complement the color schemes was flown in from Mexico, Latin America, and South America.

Pucci used a series of nautical themes in overhauling the crew's uniforms. For the stewardesses, Pucci used "space age" themes, including plastic bubbles (resembling Captain Video helmets) which the stewardesses could wear between the terminal and the plane to prevent hairstyles from being disturbed. However, the "space bubble" was dropped after about a month because the helmets cracked easily, there was no place to store them on the aircraft, and jetways at many airports made them unnecessary. For the footwear, Beth Levine created plastic boots and designed two-tone calfskin boots and shoes. Stewardesses were called "hostesses" at Braniff and were attired with uniforms and accessories composed of interchangeable parts which could be removed and added as needed. In 1969, Pucci designed "Pucci IV", for the intro of "747 Braniff Place" (1971). The collection was debuted at the Dallas Hilton by Pucci himself, in 1970. Today all of the vintage Pucci attire designed for Braniff is valuable.

In 1968, under the leadership of Mary Wells and Jack Tinker, Braniff expanded the advertising campaign that showed the likenesses of Andy Warhol, Sonny Liston, Salvador Dali, Whitey Ford, the Playboy Bunny, and other celebrities of the time, all flying Braniff. It became one of the most celebrated marketing efforts Madison Avenue had ever produced, blending style and arrogance. One advertising slogan was "if you've got it — flaunt it!" Although management considered the campaign a success, Braniff's core customers were outraged by the grandiose behavior and perceived "bragging", causing many corporate accounts to leave Braniff.

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