Air France uniforms: 90 years of elegance

March 18, 2024

Last fall, FAJO was one of the few media outlets selected from around the world to fly to Paris, France for the exclusive unveiling of the airline’s year-long 90th anniversary celebration. It was a wonderful experience in Air France’s Business Class with a massive celebration at the Galeries Lafayette Paris Haussmann. As the airline continues the festivities until fall 2024, we look back at their exceptional fashion history that includes uniforms designed by some of the fashion world’s top designers.

When Air France was founded, crew uniforms didn’t exist. To some extent, the clothing was almost military in its style. By 1945, the airline organized its first recruitment campaign for stewardesses.

On their first flights, they wore no distinguishing signs, and some passengers were surprised by the attention paid to them by who they thought were fellow passengers,” explains Air France’s backgrounder. “It became essential for them to have a uniform. Chosen to design the uniform in 1946, the Georgette Renal fashion house favoured comfort and solidity. A little austere, the wardrobe featured basic items: a petrol-blue suit, a poplin blouse, a summer dress, a felt beret adorned with a winged seahorse and a coat. At the time, its style remained very military and marked by the post-war period.” 

This changed in 1948, when the uniforms were reimagined and the colours were transformed to navy blue, with lighter fabrics. By 1951, the airline shifted its focus to elegance. Air France hired Georgette de Trèze who added a touch of femininity to the uniforms. She focused on the new looks and styles that were introduced by Christian Dior in 1947. 

And so the adventure continued thereafter. In the 1960s, Air France entered the jet age with the Caravelle and the Boeing 707. Faced with these technological gems, de Trèze’s uniforms were no longer suited for the active role the airline wanted its flight attendants to play. That’s when company entrusted the revised design to Dior’s artistic director Marc Bohan, who presented the new look in 1962. “The summer dress in sky-blue tergal was worn with a belt with a stitched Japanese knot. The winter suit was in blue braid. The jacket was short, with a Claudine collar revealing the collar of the white blouse. The pill box hat, in sky blue or navy blue, was adorned with the Air France crest. This first ‘haute couture’ uniform made a lasting impression.” 


Many other collaborations with some of the world’s most renowned designers (ever) followed after this, including Courrèges, Cristóbal Balenciaga, Jean Patou, Carven, Nina Ricci, Grès, Louis Féraud and Christian Lacroix. 

“You can recognize an Air France crew in any airport in the world, not just by their ‘colours’, of course, but by this inexpressible blend of allure and style,” said Lacroix, who reimagined the uniform in its latest iteration in 2005.

To this day, Air France is one of the most stylish airlines in the world.

All images courtesy of Air France and its archives.


Story by Hannah Yakobi

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