Australian dress register ID:604
Owner:Qantas Heritage Collection
Owner registration number:QHC005300 (scarf), QHC005301 (overcoat) QHC005302 (jacket) QHC005303 (belt and dress)
Date range:1974 - 1987
Place of origin:Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
The Qantas Pucci uniform symbolises the freedom and optimism of the mid 1970s. Designed during the Whitlam era, when Australia was asserting itself on the international stage, and during the social upheavals of the mid-late twentieth century, the uniform broke with tradition. Its feather pattern and bright colours were chosen to represent freedom, youth, 'flower power' and Australian topography. The absence of a hat was a deliberate break from past practices - a sign that the formalities of yester-year were being abandoned.
The 'Pucci' represents important developments in the airline industry, as it was worn during a period of rapid expansion of overseas travel, when economy class travel became a reality for middle class Australians. It was during this era that the number of economy seats was increased to 10 abreast on Qantas 747s. Greater seating capacity enabled Qantas to compete with charter flights and Asian carriers who were making inroads into Qantas routes.
From a scientific perspective, the shirt-dress represents the rapid development of textiles in the period after WWII. Light-weight silk jersey like that used in the shirt-dress, was utilised extensively by designer Emilio Pucci during the 1950s and 60s. It was appealing because it enhanced the shape of the body and was easy to look after. Qantas flight hostesses were fond of the uniform because it attracted the attention of flight crews from other airlines and because it could be washed and dried overnight in hotel basins.
The uniform was not only practical, but also has considerable aesthetic value in the sleek cut of the over-coat and jacket and the intricate basket weave of the wool. Above all, the vibrant swirling pattern of the scarf and shirt-dress signify the genius of Emilio Pucci, one of the great designers of the second half of the twentieth century.
This five piece Qantas Pucci uniform, in very good condition, is a rare example of the complete outfit. The uniform is supported by extensive archival and published material about the uniform launch on a 747B jet, designer Emilio Pucci and recollections of Qantas flight hostesses. The Qantas Heritage Collection also holds photographs of the uniform from the time of its launch, throughout its thirteen year reign until the present, when it is still worn for Qantas promotions.
Overall, it can be said that 'the Pucci' was significant because it signified fun, freedom, optimism and change.
Author: Julie McFarland, 14th June 2016.
The Qantas Pucci uniform comprises a belted jersey shirt dresss, woollen jacket, woollen overcoat and jersey scarf.
The brilliantly coloured silk-like jersey shirt dress is the cornerstone of the Pucci uniform. The fabric pattern is a 'surreslistic design of Australian flowers with feathers as petals' according to 'Qantas News', November 14, 1974. It also features a border pattern of feathers tumbling in a jet-stream. Blues and greens dominate the pattern, alongside less prominent orange-reds. This flower/feather design is presented on a white background. The shirt-dress has long sleeves and two front buttons covered in the dress fabric. The collar, cuffs and hem are bordered in a plain Mediterranean blue. The slightly A-line skirt sits just below the knees. At the waist, there is a fine leather belt in dark blue with a gold buckle.
The orange-red, pure Australian wool over-coat or 'top-coat' is designed to be worn over the shirt-dress and/or a jacket and skirt. It is fitted at the waist, flares towards the bottom and has a wide collar with heavy stitching 1 cm from the edge. The coat is constructed of seven panels, each defined by heavy stitching in the same colour as the fabric. There are four fabric buttons down the centre front, and two slits at the back. Above each slit is a button. The coat is fully lined in a cream synthetic and has an interior pocket in the lining at the left breast.
The short, cropped jacket is also orange-red. The fabric is pure Australian wool in a basket-weave. The jacket is long-sleeved and has a peaked collar. It buttons at the front with three gold, metal buttons embossed with with heraldic symbols and is fully lined in a matching orange-red synthetic.
The large, square, jersey scarf features the same fabric and surrealistic pattern as the shirt dress. It was usually worn draped across the shoulders of the short coat or top-coat.
History and Provenance
Pucci's family had been amongst the ranks of the nobility for a thousand years at the time of his birth. Like many aristocratic families, by the end of the nineteenth century, they had fallen upon hard times and their palazzo in Florence was in need of repair and refurbishment. For several generations, the family had been selling their artworks and furniture to make ends meet. Family legend says that Pucci's grandfather paid for his honeymoon in the USA by selling a family heirloom - a Boticelli. He trimmed the margins of the painting to fit in his trunk and sold it to a New York dealer upon arrival.
According to Emilio, as reported by Noel Barber in the Australian Women's Weekly, April 1st, 1964, he was the first member of the family to work in 1000 years. Pucci describes his parents as strict and distant, claiming that he and his brother had no feelings for them at all. Even so, he believes they were doing their best for him and his younger brother, Puccio.
Both brothers left home to escape their parents as soon as they could: Emilio to Milan to study agriculture and Puccio to the Italian Air Force.
While at university in Milan, Emilio saved every cent he could and after two years accepted an agriculture scholarship to the University of Georgia (USA). While there, he worked his way through college by doing menial jobs that would have horrified his parents, such as washing dishes. After saving enough to fund three months of travel in the US, he transferred to Reed College, Oregon, from which he graduated in Social Science. He also skied, played tennis and fenced for the College.
Pucci's willingness to work for a living, unlike his forebears, was probably grounded in his experiences as a young man in the USA. Upon entering the fashion world, he was able to capitalise on his status as a Marchese, as his aristocratic rank enhanced the allure of his designs.
Success as a fashion designer meant that Pucci was able to restore the famiy palazzo. More significantly, as the most influential Italian fashion designer of the 1950s and 1960s, he played an important role in the transformation of the Italian economy and society of the postwar era.
Births, deaths, marriages, children or family information
Emilio Pucci: 20 November 1914 – 29 November 1992
Pucci was an Italian aristocrat who inherited the title Marchese di Barsento. His parents were Augusta Pavoncelli & Orazio Pucci di Barsento. He was born in Naples and spent much of his adult life living and working in the Pucci Palace in the heart of Florence. He died of a heart attack at the age of 78 in a nursing home in Florence.
Emilio had one brother, Puccio, born a year after Emilio.
Emilio married the then 20 year old Roman baroness, Christina Nannini di Carabianca in 1959. Noel Barber, writing for the Australian Wormen's Weekly in April 1964 descibed Christina as "a silky, blue eyed blonde who looks exactly like a Bottocelli venus..." They had one son, Alessandro and one daughter, Laudomia. Alessandro died in a car crash in 1998. Laudomia took over the fashion business after Pucci's death.
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The mid 1970s was a period when international air travel was becoming a reality for middle class Australians. Qantas' aggressively marketed low-cost excursion fares to Asia and Japan, New Zealand, Hawaii and North America were popular, and despite competition from Asian airlines, Qantas remained the preferred carrier for most Australians on the London/Sydney 'Kangaroo Route'. The growth in traffic on this route can be seen when passenger numbers from 1971-2 (40,000) are compared with those of the year ending in March 1975 (250,000). At this time, a return economy fare to London was $1,202.85.
While Australians viewed Qantas as the airline that transported them to exotic destinations, in Pucci's eyes, it was the carrier that brought European immigrants from the "old continent and all its troubles ... [to] the young continent to which he was going." Pucci's Eurocentric view of Qantas impacted upon the design and colour pallette of his uniform as he wanted it to convey images of "wool, wheat, beautiful girls on a beach, brilliant flowers [and] brilliant feathers". (Airways, Dec/Jan 1974/75). He anticipated that the cheerful uniform would put the immigrants in a positive mind-frame as they travelled towards their new lives.
The vibrant uniform was launched at Mascot aboard a 747B in November, 1974. Pucci compered the event, at which two flight hostesses performed a reverse strip tease, gradually adding uniform components over Pucci-print bikinis.
At this time, a career as a flight hostess was viewed as very glamorous and entry requirements were stringent. In August, 1974, applicants had to be between 20-30 years of age, between 5'3" - 5'10", with weight in proportion to their height, but no more than 64 kgs. An education to Australian School Certificate level (Year 10) or equivalent was required. Applicants were to have no physical disabilities and display a "pleasing appearance, alert, intelligent outlook, [and be] courteous and resourceful." (Qantas Airways Flight Hostess Career Information, August, 1974). Flight hostesses were in the minority as cabin crew, as male stewards outnumbered them by four to one.
Remuneration was generous. When the average Australian annual salary was $6,235, first year flight hostesses were paid a base salary of $7,375 per annum which rose to $9,625 after 9 years. Additional payments for shoes, hairdressing and daily travel boosted salaries considerably.
How does this garment relate to the wider historical context?
The Qantas Pucci uniform was conceived during the period of the Whitlam Labor government (1972-75) - a period characterised by Whitlam's desire to transform Australia from a backward, parochial nation to a progressive state with an international focus.
The social revolutions that had occurred throughout the western world during the 1960s continued into the Whitlam era and throughout the 70s. In Australia, views about women's roles, sexuality, the environment, immigration and war were being transformed. It was during this period that women received equal pay for equal work, Australian troops were withdrawn from Vietnam, university education became free and indigenous peoples made progress regarding land rights.
While these developments were often viewed as positive, especially by the young, this was also an era characterised by high unemployment and inflation. Many people believed the Whitlam government had tried to do too much too quickly and had mishandled the economy. Whitlam's government was dismissed by the Governor General in November, 1975, to be replaced by a Liberal government headed by Malcolm Fraser.
Although a vision of the European immigrant was prominent in Pucci's mind as he designed his Qantas uniform, patterns of immigration to Australia were changing. The White Australia Policy, in operaton from 1901 and designed to prevent non-white people from migrating to Australia, was abolished in 1974. This opened the door to Asian immigrants - especially those fleeing from Vietnam after the war and to those escaping conflicts in the Middle East. European immigration actually declined during this period.
Within the aviation world, it was a difficult time because the oil producing countries lifted their prices, which incresed operating costs. Combined with inflation, this placed Qantas under considerable financial strain. The airline tried to overcome this by adding to seat capacity, whereby the number of seats on 747s was increased to 10 across in economy.
Not only was this a time of financial stress for the aviation industry, it was also a dangerous one, as there were more than 400 hijackings between 1969 and 1978. Although potential hijackings did not influence the Pucci flight hostess' uniforms, they did impact upon the attire of Flight Stewards. Instead of their neckties being secured by the traditional Windsor knot, velcro was used to keep them in place. The velcro attachment would release immediately if someone attempted to strangle a Flight Steward with his tie.
Where did this information come from?
Qantas Heritage Collection files
Prudence Black, The Flight Attendant's Shoe, University of New South Wales Press Ltd, Sydney, 2011
The Australian Womens Weekly, Wednesday 1st April, 1964
Peter Phillips, Qantas Heritage Collection.
Births, deaths and marriages information:
Average weekly salaries:
Historical overview of the era:
John Stackhouse, "From the Dawn of Aviation - The Qantas Story 1920 - 1995', Focus Publishing, Sydney, 1995.
Squirk online Education: http://www.skwirk.com/p-c_s-14_u-189_t-508_c-1881/1970s-decade-in-context/nsw/history/australia-s-social-and-cultural-history-in-the-post-war-period/social-and-cultural-features-of-the-1970s
This garment has been exhibited
This specific garment has been exhibited at the Qantas Heritage Collection, Terminal 3, Mascot, Sydney since 2005.
A Qantas Pucci uniform comprising of a shirtdress, woollen lime green jacket and A-line skirt is currenlty on display at the SFO Airport Museum at San Francisco Airport. The display is scheduled to end in January, 2017.
Place of origin:
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
It cost A$300 to clothe each flight hostess. There were 350 flight hostesses when the uniform was introduced, so the total cost was $105,000. This was no more expensive than the locally designed "Redback" uniform the Pucci replaced.
At the time of the uniform launch, Rex Banks, Qantas Director of Public Affairs, publicised the fact that if the Pucci uniform had not been introduced, Qantas would still have to replace uniforms for half the 'girls', which made the nett cost of the Pucci only $53,000.
Each flight hostess was issued with: 1 woollen overcoat, 1 shirt-dress, 1 green jacket, 1 green skirt, 1 shirt, 1 orange-red jacket and 1 orange-red skirt.
Originally owned by Qantas. The uniform appears not to have been worn and was probably not issued. It is now the property of the Qantas Heritage Collection.
Although uniforms were distributed to each flight hostess, they remained the property of Qantas. When the Pucci uniform was replaced by a uniform designed by Yves Saint Laurent in 1987, all the superceded uniforms had to be returned to Qantas. Upon their return, the uniforms were destroyed. The practice of destroying superceded uniforms is carried out by airlines throughout the world because of the security threat such uniforms pose.
This ensemble represents the uniform worn by all Qantas flight hostesses for a record 13 years from 1974-1987.
In the air. At uniform launch events in October/November, 1974. Currently worn by the Promotiom Team at Qantas promotions.
Pucci's terrace in Florence and on board a parked 747B at Mascot (uniform launch).
International Qantas route network.
The Marchese Emilio Pucci di Barsento was one of the great names in fashion in the second half of the twentieth century. Fashion was not his only talent, however. He had many other interests and successes in diverse areas before branching into fashion. Born into one of the oldest noble families in Florence, he was accomplished in skiing, swimming, tennis, fencing and flying. He held a Master of Arts Degree in Social Sciences from Reed College, Oregon and a Doctorate in Political Sciences from the University of Florence.
Emilio had been trained for a career as a diplomat, but the outbreak of WWII changed that. He bacame a pilot in the Italian Air Force and received several decorations for bravery. His career as an air force pilot lasted 14 years.
It was only by chance that Pucci entered the fashion world. This happened in the Alps during the winter of 1947 when a photographer from Harper's Bazaar asked if she could photograph the ski suit he was wearing. When she discovered that he had designed the outfit himself, she asked him to design ski-wear for a special feature on European winter fashions. These designs were a great success in the US, but Pucci paid little attention to this at the time as he was still in the Air Force.
Despite such nonchalance, Pucci's name spread through European and American fashion circles. Famed primarily for vibrant prints, so great was interest in his designs that he was forced to make a decision about whether to remain in the Air Force or pursue a full time career in fashion. Upon choosing the latter, he opened a small atelier in Florence.
Pucci was represented at the first international presentation of Italian Fashion in Florence in the winter of 1950. By this time, he was well known to a select international clientele.
After this, collection after collection was greeted with acclaim by the fashion world. His awards included the Nieman Marcus Oscar for fashion, Burdine's Sunshine Award for fashion, the Sporting Look Designers Award and the International Designs Award Competition.
While these achievements are extraordinary, Pucci claimed he was most proud of the medallion he designed for the uniforms for the Apollo 15 mission to the moon of July/August 1971. He was particularly excited by the fact that one of these medallions was intentionally left on the moon.
Amalfi Uniforms and Henry Harris, Sydney.
350 Qantas Flight Hostesses. Note that female cabin crew were called 'flight hostesses' in the mid-1970s.
Trimmings / Decoration
The uniform has few trimmings or decorations. However, the thin, navy blue belt around the shirt-dress waist has an intricate gold buckle. The overcoat has 4 x 30 mm buttons in self-fabric down the front centre opening and 2 matching buttons at the top of the back slits. The jacket has 3 x 2.5 mm gold metallic buttons with embossed heraldic crests down the centre front opening and 2 x 1.5 mm buttons of the same material and design on each cuff.
Fibre / Weave
The shirt-dress is in a printed jersey, resembling silk.
The coral coloured short jacket is in pure Austalian wool in a basket weave. It is fully lined in a coral synthetic fabric.
The coral overcoat is in pure Australian wool. It is fully lined in cream synthetic fabric.
- Natural dye
- Synthetic dye
The entire ensemble is machine-sewn. White cotton thread is used on the shirt-dress, whereas coral thread is used on the jacket and coat.
Although it was designed in Florence, Italy, the uniform was manufactured in Sydney by Amalfi Fashions and Henry Harris. The use of pure Australian wool in the overcoat and jacket reflects Qantas' desire to appeal to patriotism.
Dress: 'HENRY/HARRIS/SYDNEY' sewn into back collar. Small, double-sided label attached to manufacturer's label: 'POLYESTER'.
Overcoat: No manufacturer's label. A small cloth tag on the left-hand side of the garment: '9452/0-CCAT/SSW/12 O/R'.
Jacket: 'Amalfi/Uniforms' sewn into back collar.
The garments appear not to have been worn and therefore are unaltered.
- Hand sewn
- Machine sewn
Shirt dress is fitted at the top and the skirt falls into a gentle A-line
The short jacket is cut close to the waist and has straight sleeves.
The overcoat has raglan sleeves and is slightly A-lined.
Shirt-dress: 2 x 15 mm self-fabric buttons at neckline (centre front, below the collar). One matching button on each cuff.
Jacket: 3 x 25 mm buttons down centre front opening. Metallic gold, embossed with heraldry.
Overcoat: 4 x 30 mm buttons down centre front opening. They have a metal base and are covered in self-fabric.
- Hook and eye
Stiffening / Lining / Padding
The shirt-dress is unlined.
The jacket is fully lined in coral synthetic fabric.
The overcoat is fully lined in cream synthetic.
There is no stiffening or padding in any garment.
|Neck||650 mm||520 mm||525 mm|
|Chest||900 mm||805 mm||870 mm|
|Waist||930 mm||950 mm||640 mm||760 mm|
|Hip||1050 mm||825 mm|
|Cuff||340 mm||220 mm||280 mm|
|Hem circumference||1370 mm||1460 mm|
|Front neck to hem||865 mm||870 mm||310 mm|
|Front waist to hem||635 mm||655 mm|
|Back neck to hem||1045 mm||1070 mm||445 mm|
|Back waist to hem||635 mm||655 mm|
|Sleeve length||425 mm||420 mm||415 mm|
|Neck to sleeve head||145 mm||135 mm||140 mm|
|Cross back||490 mm||350 mm||480 mm|
|Underarm to underarm||470 mm||350 mm||450 mm|
|Fabric width||850 mm|
|Convert to inches|
The scarf measures 850 mm by 810 mm.
The Pucci uniform was a departure from Qantas uniforms of the past. Whereas all five previous uniforms had been designed by Australians, Italian designer Emilio Pucci was a high profile international fashion identity, a favourite of wealthy European and American women. He was familiar to Australian women as David Jones in Sydney stocked a selection of his collections.
Qantas was concerned about public criticism of the use of an international designer, and dealt with this by ensuring that the uniforms were manufactured locally and used Australian fabrics, such as pure merino wool. For the uniform launch in November 1974, the Qantas publicity team prepared a two point official story to explain the choice of Pucci over Australian designers: 1) Qantas and Pucci have much in common. Just as Qantas has an international reputation for excellence, Pucci's creations are internationally famous. 2) Qantas discussed a new uniform with designers from Australia, Europe and the United States. Pucci's designs were the most appealing because they were refreshingly original and reflected an enthusiasm for Australia.
When commissioned by Qantas, Pucci had a well established reputation as a designer of cutting edge, attention grabbing uniforms. He had worked with US airline, Braniff International since 1965 and played a significant role in creating their sexy image. Pucci's Qantas uniforms were less overtly sexy than his earlier Braniff designs. Rather, they represented the freedom of the 1970s and encapsulated a European perception of Australia as a fabled, exotic destination in touch with nature. The ground-breaking patterned fabric of the shift dress and bright green and orange skirt, jacket and topcoat represented this vision.
The freedom and desire to overturn tradition was also represented by the absence of a hat. This was the first Qantas flight hostesses uniform to omit this accessory. Despite this apparent informality, however, strict guidelines were in place for the wearing of the uniform, which included regulation bras, pantyhose, courtshoes with a 2.5 inch heel, and specially designed beige handbags. In order to encourage the clingy polyester/silk fabric to fall attractively, hostesses were required to wear girdles.
Despite flight hostesses' inital reservations about wearing a uniform designed by an international designer, "the Pucci" soon became a favourite because it was easy to wear and could be washed and dried overnight in a hotel wash basin. Worn for thirteen years, it outlived all other Qantas uniforms.
Articles, publications, diagrams and receipts descriptions
The launch of 'the Pucci' at Mascot on November 13, 1974, held on a 747B (registration VH-EHA), provides great insight into the values of the mid 1970s and the impact of "sexual liberation".
The presentation involved a fashion parade of previous Qantas uniforms, worn on a catwalk on the lower deck of the 747. Seats were removed from the centre of the aircraft and the audience sat in the surrounding seats. The event was widely publicised, with cameras from all four Sydney television stations present.
A highlight of the event was the introduction of two models clad in Pucci bikinis*. As they approached the stage, they each kissed the compere on the cheek, paused briefly by his side and then paraded together down the cabin and back, returning to stand on either side of him. This was done to the music of "Something in the Way we Move", an adaptation of the Beatles "Something".
Pucci was then invited to the stage to take over compering duties while models, Amanda and Cheryl, dressed themselves, layer by layer in the full ensemble - one in green and one in orange.
The grand finale of the parade, which ran for about ten minutes, was a line-up of models dressed in every Qantas uniform to date. Lunch was served after the parade, during which time, the Marchese and his two models were available for interviews and pictures.
Insight into Australian culinary fashions and prices of the mid 1970s can be gained by viewing the proposed catering costs. Sweet and sour prawns ($1.30 per serve), beef stroganoff ($1.55), rice pilaff (14c) and passionfriut pavlova (75c) all featured. These were accompanied by champagne (Verve Cliquot - $4.07 per bottle and Great Western, $2.00) and orange juice (90c for two litres). The entire cost of catering was estimated at $400 for 60 people.
Although the event appears quite politically incorrect by today's standards, Pucci and Qantas Chief Press Officer, Patrick Dunch had discussed an even more risque launch when they met in Florence. At this time, they proposed a shower scene with two girls. However, this was scrapped as "it did not satisfy some of the basic requirements, particularly visual, of newspapers and television." (Letter to Marchese Emilio Pucci from Patrick Dunch, 21st October, 1974, Qantas Heritage Collection).
*Bikinis were never part of the official uniform and were only used for promotions.
Other related objects
Green Pucci uniform, also on display at Qantas Heritage Collection. This consisits of a tailored green, pure Australian wool jacket in basket weave, a matching A-line woollen skirt and a short-sleeved shirt dress.
Kolotex Sheer Relief pantihose. Kolotex promoted their sheer support pantihose with the instantly recognisable image of a Qantas flight hostess in a Pucci uniform on the packaging. Qantas flight attendants wore Kolotex Sheer Relief in navy blue or beige.
The Jenny doll. Resembling Barbie, the Jenny doll was made by Toltoys and released in 1976. The doll wore the Qantas Pucci uniform, and also had four outfits for leisure time at Qantas destinations: a safari suit for South Africa, a ski suit for Austria, a kimono for Japan and a hula skirt for Hawaii. Qantas flight hostess, Jenny Tregaskis, who was the model for the doll, was also involved in promoting it on television and in The Australian Women's Weekly.
The uniform worn by male flight stewards during the Pucci era was designed by Senior Steward Stewart Baker. Introduced in 1973, this uniform presented a dramatic overhaul to the attire worn by male flight stewards. Up until this time, stewards' uniforms had been strongly influenced by naval attire, but this uniform was much more brightly coloured and informal. One of its key characteristics was the colourful jacket, whereby different shades represented rank. For example, a burnt orange wool jacket was worn by Flight Service Directors. This was co-ordinated with a yellow shirt, brown trousers and a wide tie with diagonal burgundy, grey and cream stripes. This was the first men's uniform without a cap. Like the Pucci ensemble worn by flight hostesses, the Stewart Baker uniform represented the freedom and informality of the 1970s.
Prior to being commisioned by Qantas, Emilio Pucci had designed colourful, informal uniforms for American airline, Braniff International. These uniforms were largely responsible for the modern, fashionable image of the airline during the 1960s and 70s.
Link to collection online
This uniform appears not to have been worn. It is therefore in good condition. However, because it has been on display under fluorescent lights at the Qantas Heritage Collection since 2005, some fading has occurred. This is particularly noticable on the collar of the short jacket.
Evidence of repairs
As the uniform has never been worn, there is no evidence of repairs.