Fashion Tribe

MAMo show takes flight

November 7th, 2014
PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.comHawaiian Airlines flight attendants dressed in uniforms past and present were at Hawai'i Convention Center Nov. 6, to help promote a 7:30 p.m. Nov. 8 runway show of uniforms through the airline's history .

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Hawaiian Airlines flight attendants dressed in uniforms past and present were at Hawai'i Convention Center on Thursday to help promote a runway show of uniforms through the airline's history.

Fashion has been a big part of Hawaiian Airlines since 1943, and one of the events marking the company’s 85th anniversary is a fashion show of all its flight attendant uniforms from past to present.

The event will open the MAMo (Maoli Arts Month Org.) Wearable Arts’ fashion show during Hawai‘i Fashion Month at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Hawai‘i Convention Center.

MAMo’s Wearable Arts Show will feature the designs and collaborations of seven native Hawaiian artists. Not a conventional runway show, the MAMo showcase always proves fun and exciting, integrating several forms of Native Hawaiian artistic expression, such as bamboo printing, feather and shell work, kapa and lauhala weaving, and body art, coupled with traditional Hawaiian chanting and dancing.

The featured artists are weaver and fiber artist Marques Marzan, designer Puamana Crabbe, jewelry designer Lufi Luteru, lauhala weaver Keoua Nelson,

designer Nita Pilago of Wahine Toa Designs, tattoo artist Keone Nunes, and feather artist Mele Kahalepuna-Wong.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.comHawaiian Airlines first 1943 "air hostess" uniform is at far left. I got to see them upclose at the Hawaiian Airlines offices near the airport.

Hawaiian Airlines first 1943 "air hostess" uniform is at far left. I got to see them up close at the Hawaiian Airlines offices near the airport.

Here are some of the Hawaiian Airlines uniform details:

» In the beginning the airline flew without flight attendants. The first flight in 1929 was from Hono­lulu to Hilo and took three hours and 15 minutes on an eight-passenger Sikorsky S-38 amphibian airplane.

» The first “air hostesses” joined the crew in 1943, and their uniform was a war-era fitted gray skirt and jacket ensemble topped off with a military-style cap and black stripe on the sleeve.

» The designs became bolder and more colorful in the 1960s in response to the jet-set glamour of the burgeoning tourist industry, which at that time was the domain of the elite.

“All the flight attendants we talked to who were flying then said it was a very glamorous and prestigious profession, and dress was a part of that,” said Debbie Nakane­lua-Richards, director of community relations at Hawaiian Airlines. “The passengers dressed up, so the crews had to look just as good or better. The airline wanted to pro­ject an image of moving forward.”

Uniforms always came with several options so attendants could wear different looks as they wished. These ensembles, shown by Huy Vo, were created by Malia International.

Uniforms always came with several options so attendants could wear different looks as they wished. These ensembles, shown by Huy Vo, were created by Malia International.

The fashion always reflected what was happening on a national scale. In 1968, flower power reigned and flight attendants wore floral-print minis in a blue-and-yellow pattern that was matched to the formality of yellow hosiery.

Grooming was meticulous and all elements were considered, down to jewelry and footwear. To go with the flower power dress, David Evins of Evins Shoe Co. of New York designed yellow shoes in a basket weave pattern accented with a stylized plumeria flower ornament on the toe of each shoe.

I am obsessed with this 1971 uniform and accompanying fish necklace. Unfortunately, the company didn't start archiving uniforms until 2009, so have only one of these. I would love to get my hands on one!

I am obsessed with this 1971 uniform and accompanying fish necklace, all designed by Richard Tam. Unfortunately, the company didn't start archiving uniforms until 2009, so have only one of these. I would love to get my hands on one!

Here's the look as worn in 1971, when so much thought was put into accessories that the ensemble included custom peasant belts, head scarf and footwear, with pump, gladiator or go-go boot options, and going to work was fun and glamorous according to those working at the time.

Here are two ways the look was worn in 1971, when so much thought was put into accessories that the ensemble included custom peasant belts, head scarf and footwear, with pump, gladiator or go-go boot options, and going to work was fun and glamorous according to those working at the time.

HA_1971D_Uniform

The uniforms were refreshed or replaced every four to five years. In 1971, San Francisco designer Richard Tam, whose creations were sold at Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman, was tapped to create a chic tea-time ensemble of a soft nylon knit dress with high front slit that revealed hot pants underneath. It was accessorized with a matching headscarf, a mix of low-heeled pumps, and gladiator and go-go boots, all in white, and a gold-metal fish pendant that would be called a statement necklace today. I thought it was the coolest uniform.

At left, and leading up to the present, is a uniform using Hawaiian Airlines' longest-running  print, at 11 years between 1979 and 1988.

At left, and leading up to the present, is a uniform using Hawaiian Airlines' longest-running print, at 11 years between 1979 and 1988.

In 1974, Malia International became the first local company to design the airline’s uniforms, creating glamorous long and short dresses in polyester knits. Malia created three collections for the airline, including those incorporating the long-running Sky print of hibiscus red, bright orchid and white to match Hawaiian Airlines classic wahine logo. The uniform will be familiar to those who flew between 1979 and 1988.

Then, as now, uniform selection is a matter of fashion and functionality, Nakane­lua-Richards said. When planes are changed, uniforms may have to be adjusted to take higher carry-on bins into account, which require freedom of movement and a longer skirt.

Dress is also more formal on international flights, to take other countries' fashion into account. The current uniform of a Pacific Blue aloha shirt can be dressed up with a more structured skirt, jacket and pant.

———

Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage appears in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at nkam@staradvertiser.com and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.

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