Cristobal Balenciaga was appointed by Air France to design the new uniform in 1969.

The fall/winter uniform was made of navy color twill and came with a collar-less jacket. Pockets with flaps decorate the chest and sleeves for added functionality. The tight skirt was puffy in the areas where the pockets were sewn on. After World War II, uniforms evolved from being militaristic to elegant. However, Balenciaga went the other way and designed a mannish suit, hat and boots resembling the style of the army. For spring/summer, short-sleeved double-breasted suit in the colors pale pink and blue was designed. The hat that went with the uniform was modern and had the appearance similar to a baseball cap.

Coco Chanel referred to Balenciaga as a “true couturier” in his praise. When the world shifted to pret-a-porter in 1968 as a result of the May events in France of that year, Balenciaga closed his maison. He left behind the statement, “I know far too much about couture to handle pret-a-porter.” The Air France uniform he designed in 1969 became his last work as a couturier.

According to Mr. Souillot of Air France, “People within the company had different opinions about the appointment of Cristobal Balenciaga. At the time, fashion was making a shift to pret-a-porter, and so some thought that we were heading in the opposite of the trend.” In the end though, the uniform designed by Balenciaga was beautiful and represented the image of women’s independence, which is what the company was after.

To be continued into 5/6.