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Museum of Flight New Style in the Aisle Exhibit Opens Jan. 29

Popular 2008 exhibit of flight attendant history and fashions returns with new flair

SEATTLE, – On Jan. 29, 2011 the Museum’s acclaimed Style in the Aisle temporary exhibit returns with exciting new flair. Style in the Aisle reveals the professional world of flight attendants and the popular cultures that influenced the job and its fashions.

Created by The Museum of Flight, this delightful display of airline memorabilia and vintage uniforms spans from the nurse togs of the 1930s to the fab fashions inspired in the 1960s and 1970s. While retaining the essence of the original 2008 exhibit, most of the uniforms in this exhibit have not been seen since they graced airline cabins decades ago. The collection represents 12 airlines, including TWA, Braniff, Hughes Airwest and others that flew into the sunset years ago. Enhanced with photos, videos and artifacts, the exhibit captures the bygone ages of airline travel into the 1980s. The exhibit runs until May 30, 2011, and includes Style-related Museum events and programs until the show closes.

“In 2008, Style in the Aisle was visited by hundreds of former flight attendants from around the country,” said Kathrine Browne, of the Museum’s curatorial staff, “and it inspired many of them to donate their own, treasured uniforms and memorabilia to the Museum. This new exhibit puts these beautiful items on display for the first time.”

The Exhibit
Style in the Aisle uncovers the history of flight attendants through their fashion, their role in creating new standards for aircraft design and functionality, and their crucial involvement in the development of equitable working conditions for women in the United States. For over 80 years, American flight attendants have worked to make airplane passengers feel safe and comfortable. Sometimes underestimated, often romanticized, and always admired, flight attendants–almost exclusively female in the early days of the profession–have been the public face of air travel.

Most of the uniforms on display in the exhibit are from the flamboyant 1960s and 1970s. The collection includes creations by Parisian designer Jean Louis, Italian designer Emilio Pucci, and Hollywood designer Oleg Cassini. Trans World Airlines, Western Airlines and Braniff International represent a few of the airlines that flew the groovy garb featured in the exhibit. Rare articles also include a 1936 United Air Lines uniform, and a 1945 Northwest Airlines ensemble accented with a mink stole.

“You have captured the spirit and changing ‘moods’ of the profession,” said Kirk Ann Neil, United Airlines flight attendant from 1966 to 2003. “Thank you especially for emphasizing the flight attendant’s role in safety on board.”

A Brief History of Style
In 1930, Boeing Air Transport hired eight nurses as “stewardesses” to add a sense of safety to concerned passengers. In the early days, stewardesses wore a nurse-like gray uniform in the cabin and military-style wool suits and caps outdoors. Passengers welcomed the extra service and friendliness of the nurse on board. In the 1940s and 1950s, airline hostesses were expected to be feminine but modest. White gloves, girdles, hats, and spectator shoes gave stewardesses an attractive and professional look. In the 1960s until the mid-1970s, airlines raced to stay ahead of the competition by hiring artists and fashion designers to create a distinctive image for their flight attendants. The modest suits of earlier years gave way to colorful outfits with hot pants, mini-skirts, and go-go boots.  Recent trends have brought styles almost full-circle with a sober, corporate look nearly universal in the profession.

The non-profit Museum of Flight is one of the largest independent air and space museums in the world. The Museum’s collection includes more than 150 historically significant air- and spacecraft, as well as the William E. Boeing Red Barn® — the original manufacturing facility of the Boeing Co. The Airpark includes outdoor displays with the first jet Air Force One, a Concorde airliner, and the first Boeing 747 jumbo jet. The Museum aeronautical library and archival holdings are the largest on the West Coast. The Education Office offers weekend family programs, programs for students and educators, and overnight camps for children. McCormick & Schmick’s Wings Café is on site.

The Museum of Flight is located at 9404 E. Marginal Way S., Seattle, Exit 158 off Interstate 5 on Boeing Field half-way between downtown Seattle and Sea-Tac Airport. The Museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $15 for adults, $13 for seniors 65 and older, $10 for active military, $8 for youth 5 to 17, and free for children under 5. Group rates are available. Admission on the first Thursday of the month is free from 5 to 9 p.m. courtesy of Wells Fargo. For general Museum information, please call 206-764-5720 or visit

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