Take a walk down memory lane and prepare yourself for a runway show from Finnair’s 70 years of flight attendant fashion.
Care-free style above the clouds
When Finnair’s air hostesses first took to the skies in 1947, Finnair’s name was Aero and the uniforms were serious and included a flight cap. The dark blue, military style outfit was adorned with gold buttons engraved with a crowned lion, which is the Finnish national coat of arms. Due to a shortage of sheer hosiery in Finland during the post-war years, nylons had to be purchased from Sweden.
The 1960s were a very strong decade in Finnish design and fashion. During the summer of 1969, the Americans landed on the moon and Finnair staked out new territory: the Atlantic crossing. The airline wanted to arrive in New York City in style and make a lasting impression; the most celebrated Finnish designers at the time were put in charge. Tapio Wirkkala designed glassware, porcelain and cutlery; Dora Jung created new table linens; and 22-year-old emerging Finnish fashion talent Kari Lepistö designed the uniforms in the spirit of the Space Age. The hem of the skirt was considerably shorter and the shirt was bright silver. A sapphire mink cap finished the look.
A host with a mission
Specially trained hostesses were hired to attend to the first-class passengers on long-haul flights from 1969. Referred to as Finn Hostesses, these women were easily recognised by their full-length dress. A design competition for their uniform was held every year, and the winning outfit was used each spring to promote Finnish fashion. The first graphical blue and white dress was created by fashion designer Anna-Liisa Nieminen and textile designer Nana Suni. The Finn Hostesses accessorised their uniforms with designer Björn Weckström’s series of outer space silver accessories – a brooch depicting a figure standing in a celestial scenery. Every year the Finn Hostess outfit was updated, but the brooch remained the same.
A lighter and brighter summer look
While working for Marimekko from 1953 to 1960, designer Vuokko Eskolin-Nurmesniemi radicalised Finnish fashion by liberating women from tight-fitting dresses which were made to be worn with a corset. One of the main reasons for this was that Eskolin-Nurmesniemi did not want to break up the large motifs on her textiles. A pioneer, she came up with new ideas on how to create a garment with as few seams as possible. Her designs were easy-going, loose, bold, and graphic. And the summer uniforms designed for Finnair followed this same pattern. The outfit was either bright apple green or yellow accompanied by a matching round cap designed by Kari Lepistö. These outfits were used during the summer months from 1973 to 1975.
The inflight uniform has come full circle with the newest creations by designer Ritva-Liisa Pohjalainen, who was chosen to re-cast the look in 2011. Her uniforms are classic and embrace a bit of nostalgia. The designs have fresh clean lines that are in perfect harmony with the cabin appearance that promotes Finnish design. And Finnair has grown from six flight attendants in 1947 to more than 2,000 today. For an individual look, the cabin crew is now given several options to choose from, while the overall appearance stays homogeneous. And the flight cap is back!
Text by Mila Pentti Photos by Finnair Archives
This story is published in Under the Northern Skies – 100 Stories Celebrating Flying, Finnair’s jubilee publication celebrating Finland’s 100-year anniversary.
P.S.: You can pre-order a copy from finnairshop.com before your next Finnair flight. It will be waiting in your seat when you board.