I want to dedicate this post at one of the most famous Florentine in the world, the Italian fashion designer and politician Emilio Pucci, Marchese di Barsento (1914-1992).
Known for his geometric prints in a kaleidoscope of colors, Pucci designed some of the flarey flight attendant outfits for Braniff International Airlines during the 1960s and 70s. The History of Aviation Collection features the Braniff Collection of public relations materials that include images of Pucci creations.
The short-lived 1965 “Rain Dome” also known as the “bubble helmet” was supposed to protect flight attendant hairdos but it proved to be impractical leaving its only value in the publicity it generated.
The heavily-illustrated book, Emilio: Pucci Fashion Story, features seven images from the UT Dallas collection showing flight attendants in the early 1970s.
Emilio Pucci designed seven complete outfits for the Braniff hostesses, pilots and ground crew from 1965-1977. In 1968 Barbie doll accessories featured versions of his first four uniforms. There were turtlenecks, t-shirts, crop jackets and culottes. Among the most unusual was his first design, the “bubble helmet,” that consisted of a clear plastic hood worn by flight attendants between the terminal and aircraft to protect their hairdos from rain and wind from the jet engines. Braniff called it a “rain dome” but it was impractical and ceased after 1965.
He also incorporated the “BI” logo into some of his prints. He used his designs on blouses and a line of wrinkle-free printed silk dresses at the urging of Stanley Marcus. He received the Neiman-Marcus Fashion Award in Dallas in 1954 and 1967.
Braniff Airways, Inc. d/b/a Braniff International Airways was an American airline that operated from 1928, incorporated in 1930, until 1982, primarily in the midwestern and southwestern United States, Mexico, Central America, South America, and in the late 1970s, Asia and Europe. The airline ceased operations on May 12 and 13, 1982 due to both high fuel prices and competition after implementation of the Airline Deregulation Act in December 1978. Two later airlines used the Braniff name: the Hyatt Hotels-backed Braniff, Inc. in 1984-89, and Braniff International Airlines, Inc. in 1991-92.
In 1978, Braniff Chair Harding L. Lawrence negotiated a unique interchange agreement to operate Concorde over American soil. Concorde service began in 1979 between Dallas-Fort Worth and Washington, D.C., with service to Paris and London on interchange flights with Air France and British Airways. Flights between Dallas-Fort Worth and Washington Dulles airports were commanded by Braniff cockpit and cabin crews, while British or French crews took over for the remaining segment to Europe. Transfer of registration took place in Washington each time Concorde flew into or out of the United States.
Braniff became the registered operator of the planes while on U.S. domestic service, and the planes were physically re-numbered with temporary white adhesive vinyl. Registration was then returned to Air France or British Airways on the trans-Atlantic leg. Over American soil, Concorde was limited to Mach 0.95, though crews often flew just above Mach 1; the planes flew at Mach 2 over open water.
Concorde service proved a loss leader for Braniff. Though Braniff charged only a 10 percent premium over standard first-class fare to fly Concorde – and later removed the surcharge altogether – the 100-seat plane often flew with no more than 15 passengers. Meanwhile, Boeing 727s flying the same route were filled routinely. Concorde service ended after little more than a year. However, the notoriety that Braniff received from operating Concorde was advertising that could not be readily bought.
Although many postcards show a Braniff painted Concorde, the Braniff livery was never applied to the left side of any Concorde, and the aircraft remained in the colors of British Airways and Air France throughout the operation. Braniff ceased Concorde operations at the end of May, 1980