The exhibition ‘Cabin Crew. Fashion in the Air’ is presenting a fascinating survey of stewardess outfits. The special selection of uniforms has been made from the collection of more than 1400 uniforms from 523 different airlines that the Dutch purser Cliff Muskiet started in 1993.
Over the years the outfits have conformed to the dominant fashion image of the time, from functional and sober to refined and chic. The cut and colour of the uniform, the headgear, the form and pattern of the scarves, the blouse and the emblem – not a detail has been overlooked. Some airlines have even brought in famous designers to design the outfits for their cabin crew. For instance, Mart Visser designed the current KLM uniforms, and internationally many prominent designers such as Yves Saint Laurent and Cristóbal Balenciaga have devoted themselves to the look of fashion in the air.
The presentation in the Kunsthal offers a broad survey from different continents and decades. The 1960s and 1970s are the personal favourite of the collector Cliff Muskiet. In the years when civic aviation was emerging, the costumes were often far from functional and showcased glamour. One of the highlights is the uniform of Braniff International, a US airline that no longer exists. The 1965 design by Emilio Pucci, appropriately nicknamed ‘The Air Strip’, required the stewardesses to keep changing a different item of the costume during the flight to surprise the passengers each time with a new look. The uniform even includes a plastic space helmet to protect flight attendant’s impeccable hairdo from the rain.
Ever since he was a young boy, Cliff Muskiet (1965) has been fascinated by the world of flying. He collected everything connected with airplanes until he was given his first stewardess outfit through an acquaintance of his mother. It was the start of an impassioned collection. After a job on the side as an aircraft cleaner, his dream of becoming a steward came true.By now Cliff Muskiet has been working for many years as a purser with KLM and uses his time off during international flights to expand his enormous collection of uniforms –the largest in the world.