The name Italian fashion designer Emilio Pucci
gave to the uniforms he designed for Braniff Airlines
' pilots and stewardesses. Pucci introduced the Gemini 4 line in 1965.
While pilots got off easy, a very smart-looking basic black, double-breasted gabardine
suit, Pucci gave special attention to the stewardesses with his Gemini 4 "Air Strip" apparel.
The double entendre
was fully intentional. Pucci's designs were meant to coincide with the first ever attempt by an airline to sell its services by super sizing stewardess
sexiness. Many Braniff ads carried the sub-slogan "Does your wife know you're flying with us?" Wink wink!
In the '60s, air travel was still very much the purview
of the upper class and mostly enjoyed by business men. Many society women
were rather put off by Braniff's wink-and-a-nod attempts to introduce men to mile high mistresses and boycotted Pucci's other designs.
While stewardesses could, err, enjoy all the advantages of being cooped up with drunken 55-year-old men
bloated on their own sense of self importance, they could not enjoy the most outlandish element of Pucci's Gemini 4 uniform. The poor dears were basically asked to wear a bizarre fishbowl
helmet reminiscent of lascivious
"moon maiden" imagery found on the covers of sci fi pulp novels of the '50s. Pucci claimed these helmets were intended to guard a stewardess's perfect coiffure
. Not without surprise, most of Braniff's stewardesses found the head gear as uncomfy as it was embarrassing and hard to hear in. The fishbowl space helmet look was quickly shuffled into the wings, relegated to photo op
stuff. It was replaced by a pillbox hat
lashed to the woman's head with a velvet scarf. Yeah. Better.
The rest of the uniform was an attempt by Pucci to create travel clothes of the future. Pucci was making a name for himself as the designer to the newly emerging "jet set
", creating a line of "casual chic
" or as we might call it today "dressy casual
". He wanted to design an outfit that could basically be worn from Europe in winter to the sunny beaches of Rio and fit in one suitcase. And who better to test this on than helpless, underpaid, non-unionized stewardesses?
Gemini 4's gimmick was the "air strip" tie-in. As the flight progressed, the stewardess would remove more and more clothing. On the tarmac, passengers were greeted by a woman in an apricot
-colored wool top coat. On board, the stewardess removed the coat, revealing a bright pink gabardine suit. During meal service, she shimmied out of the suit, to reveal a blue silk turtle-necked tunic
with matching culottes