© air france
© air france
The first "uniforms" for male cabin crew were based on a wardrobe inspired by that of sleeping car waiters, respecting the codes of savoir-vivre of the luxury hotel industry: white jacket, navy pants, white cap, navy spencer with collar. The braids and insignia mark a hierarchy that guarantees order, a military style that the men's civil aviation uniform has kept intact to this day.
In 1945, Air France organized the first competitive recruitment process for stewardesses. The uniform became indispensable. Selected by the stewardesses, the Georgette Renal fashion house planned a wardrobe of basic clothes: suit, summer dress and coat. The hostess took on the look of a schoolgirl off to war. In 1951, the booming company chose Georgette de Trèze to modernize and feminize the stewardesses' look, reflecting the spirit of the 1950s.
The old uniform no longer suited the active role Air France wanted its stewardesses to play. In March 1962, Air France launched a new model designed by Marc Bohan at Dior, introducing the "Air France" model into its haute couture collection. The overall color of the uniform lightened to Marceau blue, and the navy-blue tambourine with the Air France crest replaced the beret. Every detail of the new uniform evokes the refinement of haute couture. The first couture uniform, it is the one that has left the greatest mark on flight personnel.
At the end of the 60s, the famous couturier Cristobal Balenciaga designed the new Air France uniforms. The project was limited to flight attendants, who were given winter suits in a very "aeronautical" style. In 1971, Balenciaga added two outfits (winter and summer) to distinguish stewardesses on the ground. By the end of the year, the stewardesses were complaining that the designers weren't paying enough attention to their working conditions.
The classicism of the Air France uniform stood out in the midst of a fashion trend that was already "thinking" about interstellar travel. UTA chose the most avant-garde form of fashion, commissioning Pierre Cardin to design its new uniform for 1968, in order to rejuvenate the company's style. To preserve the company's inventive character, in 1973 UTA entrusted André Courrèges with changing the uniforms. Pants made their appearance, accompanied by skai jackets, tight sweaters, mini-skirts and flat white boots. UTA chose to express its modernism with a fashionable uniform.
In 1971, Jacques Esterel launched the new Air Inter uniform, with its dynamic orange color and pop-colored geometric decor: mini-coat, polka-dot dress, shoulder bag, pumps and hat. The uniform style soon went out of fashion in a period when trends were short-lived. UTA and Air Inter opted for a more classic style, turning to Nina Ricci, Hermès and Dior in the 1980s. The seventies opened a new page in the history of Air France uniforms: one of softness and conviviality, breaking away from the imposed traditional dress. To celebrate the arrival of Concorde, a new uniform for Concorde stewardesses was commissioned from Jean Patou in 1976.
In 1978, after three years of crisis, Air France's activities were expanding, and a new uniform for cabin crew was designed to redefine the company's image. Blue and white, the traditional Air France colors, were "energized" by red. To achieve this diversity of styles, the multi-faceted uniform was entrusted to three fashion houses: Carven, Nina Ricci and Grès.
In 1987, Air France unveiled a new uniform for its ground staff. The Georges Rech brand perfectly reflects the style of the active, dynamic woman with masculine-feminine charm. As for the cabin crew uniform, the wardrobe was entrusted to three designers: the coat by Nina Ricci, the four main elements by Carven, the summer dress by Louis Féraud and the accessories by Catherine de Karolyi.
Each designer is given a set of specifications (comfort, ease, practicality), and cabin crew vote on which pieces will make up their new wardrobe.
At the beginning of the 90s, to give a single identity to all agents, a common uniform was needed. The cabin crew uniform was redesigned on the basis of the mixed uniforms of 1987 with Nina Ricci, Carven and Louis Féraud.
Thanks to its policy of consolidation and successive mergers, Air France had to create a look that personified this coming together of worlds and cultures. The uniform, entrusted to the famous couturier Christian Lacroix, is the result of a subtle blend between the need for identity and the freedom of the imagination. It seduces and inspires collective dreams.
You can recognize an Air France crew in any airport in the world," says Christian Lacroix. Not just by their 'colors', of course, but by this inexpressible blend of allure and style". In 2005, the Arles-based couturier created a wardrobe of a hundred or so combinable pieces, revisiting "French elegance".
The biggest names in design have put their talents to work at Air France, bringing aesthetics and prestige to air travel.
When, in the 1930s, Air France set out to conquer the air travel industry, its strategy was immediately organized according to the luminous rules of modernity. A progressive, humanist modernity. To achieve this, the company called on the most daring designers and architects of the time.
In the 1950s, Air France called on Raymond Loewy, the "pope" of design. The growth in traffic demanded a new, more industrial approach to business. As an ambassador of the "French art de vivre", Air France had no intention of sacrificing its image on the altar of rationality.
Air France will never cease to be interested in the aesthetics of lines and shapes, whether for tableware designed by Andrée Putman or Philippe Starck, for seats or, of course, for the framework of its cabins and agencies, calling on the greatest names such as Raymond Loewy, Pierre Gautier-Delaye, Charlotte Perriand or Andrée Putman.
In 2009, professional design circles saluted the permanence of Air France's visual strategy, awarding the Brandimage agency - which supports the company in its choices and achievements - the Stratégies du Design Global grand prize. And in 2012, the Hall M lounge in Terminal 2E at Paris-Charles de Gaulle (designed by Noé Duchaufour Lawrance) was awarded the "Janus du commerce".
Co-founder of the UAM, the union of modern artists, Charlotte Perriand had always been moving up in the world – foreshadowing her adventure with Air France.
In 1957, Air France, aiming to be 'at the cutting edge of progress', decided to modernize its agencies by calling on Perriand's design skills. When designing and constructing these new agencies, located in the four corners of the globe, Charlotte Perriand would use what she called 'street art'.
She included photographs, glass domes, dividing screens made of furniture, tiles and storage – and yet more storage, making everything uncluttered, tidy, and precise. Charlotte Perriand continued to renovate agencies, forging a particularly close link with Air France.
Jean Prouvé, a trained metalsmith, soon became attached to the modernist ideals of industrialised building construction and the use of aluminium.
In 1954, Prouvé worked with Charlotte Perriand on furnishing the Jean-Zay university accommodation site in Antony.
It was no coincidence that Air France – which was looking to be more actively involved overseas, in Japan, Brazil and Africa and was particularly interested in founding high-end hotels and restaurants there – called upon this duo of designers and friends.
A fruitful collaboration developed, with Perriand working with Prouvé to design prototype fittings in sheet metal.
It was in Brazzaville that he would deploy his prototype at the Air France living quarters and as part of the interior design of two hotels: the Maya Maya and the Hôtel du Parc.
Raymond Loewy founded his own agency in 1930, and entered a period of creative frenzy: a logo for Shell, items for Coca-Cola, Lucky Strike cigarette packets, etc. President Kennedy commissioned him for the décor of Air Force One, then, in 1976, Nasa called upon him for the interior design of the Skylab.
He was the paragon of industrial design, a self-proclaimed industrial aesthetician and the brilliant inventor of a number of logos, some of which are still in use. Attracted to the United States very early on, it was in the country of self-made men that he would become a genius of industrial design who would change the history of design and branding forever.
After his work on a number of Super Constellations, in 1952, Air France tasked Loewy with fitting out the first Concorde: the décor of the reception area at Roissy airport, furnished with Le Corbusier seats, the cabin interior and the seats in various colours, not forgetting the lights, the crockery and Christofle cutlery, and even the meal trays.
or a period of fifteen years from the end of the 50s, Pierre Sautet, Air France's marketing director, would give the renovation and development of seventy agencies to the architect-decorator Pierre Gautier-Delaye, who originally worked at Raymond Loewy's Paris studio but had been independent since 1958.
He started with the Champs-Elysées agency, attaching a strip of stainless steel to the front of the building – a historic addition that would be copied around the world.
That was how Gautier-Delaye added his mark, his signature. Later, he brought innovation, adding automatic doors – a design first. He also brought originality to the interior of agencies: he organised the space lengthways, creating an effect of perspective by lining up sales desks on raised platforms. Each level had its own colour, with a selection from a large range varying from yellow, orange, pink and purple to blue – a rainbow that so perfectly matched these modern, pleasure-seeking years.
At the same time, a new type of aircraft was revolutionising airspace: the 747. Air France called upon Gautier-Delaye once again, and named the fleet after some of France's great châteaux. The designer would also work on the first Boeing B747 in 1976, used for the Paris-New York route, and in particular the first-class cabin with its 36 seats.
A white bird with a curved beak, a technological jewel in the crown of Franco-British collaboration, Concorde could fly twice as fast as other jets, making the journey from Paris to New York in three hours and thirty minutes.
And very quickly, Concorde became a symbol of luxury. The interior elements were first assigned to Raymond Loewy, who designed every single aspect. In 1985 and 1988, Gautier-Delaye spruced up the cabin with the tulip red, blue and beige strip. Later came the turn of Andrée Putman, to commemorate the supersonic aeroplane's twentieth anniversary.
Putman's concept was based on the idea of adding headrest covers and fitting a carpet with a black and white geometric pattern.
The world of Air France has inspired generations of talented designers – poster designers, illustrators, graphic designers, film-makers, photographers, choreographers, and more – who have all helped to create its marketing image.
"The traveller has arrived; he strolls around exotic and tropical countries, and takes in dream-like landscapes over which, as gracious as a bird, flies a minuscule aeroplane." (Jean Cocteau)
Posters have always played a key role in Air France's communications.
With a heritage of over 1500 posters produced by the most famous illustrators, Air France has one of the greatest collections in the world.
Sometimes extremely evocative, in other cases more abstract, posters have to be striking, with few or no words and unambiguous imagery – the destination becomes a dream made real, in pictures. In general, posters take one of two formats: small posters of 40x60 cm or larger posters of 90x60 cm.
Regardless of time periods or technological developments, posters retain their artistic ability to entrance, bringing glory to aviation's role in globalisation and the increasing closeness between countries, people, and cultures.
Air France played the marketing game, linking its image to French creativity and elegance.
Mindful of the impact of posters on brand distribution, the airline agreed to give carte blanche to its designers so they could express themselves freely around the four key elements: the sky, an aeroplane, the nine letters that make up the words 'Air France' and the winged seahorse with the dragon's tail, the logo inherited from Air Orient. In the 1930s, air travel remained the preserve of the privileged few, and Air France's message was clear: it was an invitation to travel.
Although Air France called upon the skills of famous poster designers such as Savignac, Solon and Cassandre, for example, the airline also broke new ground by turning to well-known artists such as Cocteau, Mathieu, Brenet, Picart Ledoux and Vasarely.
In the 1960s, Air France considered that tourist communications had not significantly benefited from contemporary art and adopted a new strategy. Instead, the airline launched poster campaigns that were generally focused on a single artist: Georget in 1963, Mathieu in 1968, Pagès in 1971 and Bezombes in 1981.
Their posters portrayed the travel experience as dreamlike, with designs that combined art and technical skills, featuring editing and photographic effects.
But 'pure' advertising continued to exist – firstly, through Roger Excoffon's images, featuring a dominant sky revealing symbols of the destination. Later, in 1971, Savignac would send a character into the sky: "I fly therefore I am".
With the advent of the 1980s and the development of tourism, Air France launched its poster campaign with the new red, white and blue visual identity, adorned with elephants for India, or a Spanish dancer's fan for Spain.
Faced with air transport becoming commonplace, Air France worked to create a close relationship with its customers.
A new philosophy of travelling took hold: 'Winning the world's heart'. Posters aimed to win over customers, who featured at the heart of its imagery.
From 1999, Air France entrusted its advertising campaigns to agencies working with talented photographers. Travel became a kind of space-time devoted to unique sensations.
The frenzy of the 1980s gave way to the search for calm, simplicity, poetry, and zen.
Under the creative management of Rémi Barbet, the film-maker Michel Gondry and photographers Nathaniel Goldberg, Nicolas Moore, Steven Klein and Christophe Millet created pure, weightless images.
The poetic and minimalist message was designed to give meaning back to travelling: 'Making the sky the best place on earth'. The designs featured the tiny aeroplane from the first posters, without which the airline would not exist.
In the 2000s, Air France took two approaches: passenger well-being, highlighted in the new campaign given to the photographer Camilla Akrans, and the airline's commitment to protecting the planet, seen through the aerial photos of Yann Arthus Bertrand. Camilla Akrans' lens brought to light the well-being felt by passengers, with their 'dead' time becoming time gained. Her images combine luxury and humanity. Both destinations and services are symbolised by a variety of objects flying through the sky, with the white line of their trail behind them. Yann Arthus Bertrand highlights the beauty and the fragility of the world with photographs taken from the air.
On 2 April 2014, Air France unveiled its 'Air France, France is in the air' press advertising campaign, with posters in 12 countries (France, Germany, Brazil, Canada, China, Spain, the United States, Italy, Japan, Russia, Senegal and Switzerland) as well as online, on social media, and on radio.
Created by BETC, this campaign featured 6 images describing the services offered by Air France: the comfort of the A380, the new La Première class, the new Business class, the cuisine, the network and SkyPriority (priority access in over 1,000 airports). It also featured 12 images highlighting iconic destinations served by Air France (Paris, New York, Brazil, China, Japan, Africa, Italy etc.).
'Air France, France is in the air' combines daring and renewal, showcasing the ambitions of the Transform 2015 plan.
The images, produced by Argentine photographers Sofia & Mauro, feature a surprising mix of roots and modernity, while at the same time echoing the airline's renowned history of poster design. Pleasure, youth and dynamism shine through with references to the Moulin Rouge, the French Revolution, the Sun King, master chefs and haute couture.
The airline's eminently French character and the concept of the pleasure of travelling with Air France are embodied in a joyful, lively and enthusiastic message that chimes with the French joie de vivre and way of life. The light, offbeat tone forges a relationship based on affinity and closeness with the public.
Fifteen years after 'Making the sky the best place on earth', Air France adopted a new slogan: 'Air France, France is in the air'. It portrays France as open and international, highlighting the positive universal values associated with the country: the art of living, the unique French spirit, luxury brands and Michelin-starred chefs with a following both in France and abroad.
On 8 March 2015, continuing on from the campaign launched in March 2014, Air France launched its new advertising film 'France is in the Air' in France and five other countries (the United States, Brazil, Japan, China and Italy). Broadcast on television channels, in cinemas, via digital channels and on social networks, this advertising spot expressed both the airline's openness to the world and its pride in offering a one-of-a-kind journey à la française – with elegance, inventiveness, and humour. It features the very best of France: a France that is positive, welcoming and inspiring, a shining light across the entire world.
A few weeks after its launch, the new Air France advertising film had been seen over 8 million times on YouTube.