I just made a VERY cool discovery! Buried in my attic in an old suitcase, I found original posters from Pan Am in the 1960s. These were the prototypes for a campaign featuring their new character, “Happy Helen the Airline Hostess”. They never made it into wider circulation, but that just increases their
monetary historical value!
And look! I even found the props from the photo shoot in the suitcase. The dress is so well-preserved – it’s LIKE NEW!
And it has some great details. The dress features an inverted V in the front and the back, an unusual style that is probably an original design. To increase contrast, the green fabric is reversed on the bottom to display its darker, less shiny back side.
The center back closes with a small hidden snap. The collar is cut as a bias strip that was steamed into a curve. This way, the patterned squares follow the curve of the collar. If fact, if there had been Facebook in the 1960s, I’m sure the original seamstress would have shared photos of the collar in progress.
There was even an employee broschure included that show swhat the inside of the uniform looked like. It’s fully lined, though the lining is left separate at the hem. When I look at those inverted V’s on the lining, I can’t help wondering if the original seamstress was kicking herself for not thinking to simplify the pattern for the lining. After all, she could have put the combined the top and bottom into a single piece with bust darts for shaping, which would have made putting the lining together much easier. Of course, she might have thought of this after cutting it out and didn’t have extra fabric to recut the lining.