Would you like to own a part of history that captures the long lost glamour of jet travel? Chelsea Marketeers, a premiere eBay trading service specializing in commercial accounts and private collections, has just the thing for you. Chelsea will be auctioning a collection of 18 complete Braniff International flight attendant uniforms designed by Emilio Pucci and Halston, along with a host of matching shoes, handbags, luggage and other accessories.
A former Braniff flight attendant, Mary Sue Seibold, gathered the complete collection, consisting of 90 individual items, during the 20 years she flew with the airline. The designer uniforms and accessories, including a one-of-a-kind prototype purse from Pucci, will be on display at a private party on Wednesday, June 7, before being auctioned by New York-based Chelsea Marketeers.
Seibold amassed the collection from 1963 to 1983. Chelsea Marketeers CEO Jeffrey Bernstein said this is the largest and most comprehensive collection of vintage airline uniforms they’ve seen.
“The collection is particularly significant because Braniff’s uniforms from this era were designed by Pucci and Halston, and they in turn inspired many of today’s leading names in fashion,” Bernstein said. “Our goal is to sell it as a complete collection to someone who truly appreciates the talents of Pucci and Halston and the impact that these designs made—not only on the airline industry, but also on the fashion industry as a whole.”
High fashion in high altitude
In the early 1960s, Dallas-based Braniff International set out to make commercial air travel more glamorous. The airline tapped the talent of Emilio Pucci, a former WWII bomber pilot and one of the hottest designers of the time, to create the uniforms for its flight attendants. Pucci’s innovative designs were a blend of fashion at altitude and fashion with attitude, serving up bright, bold colors with both style and sex appeal. In the 1970s, Braniff hired Halston to provide a new, refreshing look for its flight attendants, continuing its leadership in high-flying fashion.
Braniff’s fashionable flight attendant uniforms set the trends not only for the center aisle, but also for the streets of New York and Los Angeles. Braniff’s bold colors and stylish designs helped transform the airline industry from the utilitarian functionality that emerged from its post-World War II military roots to a service-oriented industry in which the passenger was offered an experience in the air.
The high-flying fashions also inspired many of today’s top designers, proving that edgy innovation can lead to commercial success. After all, these ground-breaking uniforms played a pivotal role in propelling Braniff to new heights in the aviation industry.
Flying the fashionable skies
When Mary Sue Seibold was a sixth grader in Saint Jo, Texas, a small town about 90 miles north of Dallas, she looked up and saw a white contrail streaking across the bright blue sky. She told her friends that day that she would grow up to be an “airline hostess.” She wanted to become part of the exciting new world of jet aviation, and to see the world along the way.
After high school, she worked briefly for a local bank—just long enough to fulfill the two-year work experience required by Braniff International for all new hostess applicants. She joined Braniff in January 1963, shortly before Harding Laurence took the helm as the airline’s trend-setting president. She flew with the airline for the next two decades, ending her career when Braniff went bankrupt in 1983.
Before Seibold joined Braniff, her grandfather had given her a hope chest.
“It was the kind of thing you would put keepsakes in for your wedding day,” explained Seibold. “But I knew I couldn’t get married because air hostesses, as we were called in those days, weren’t allowed to be married, so I used my hope chest to save my uniforms over the years.”
The complete collection will be available for sale via a sealed-bid auction that will commence on Thursday, June 8, and conclude on Monday, June 19. The collection will be sold as a whole, with bidding to open at $100,000.
To learn more about the collection and its auction, contact Jeffrey Bernstein at 212-995-0279 or Jeffrey@chelseamarketeers.com.