By  on April 1, 2005

PARIS — Sporting a cloud-like puff of organza at their throats, Air France’s flight attendants are ready for takeoff with curvaceous new uniforms designed by Christian Lacroix.

To be worn by 36,000 of the carrier’s employees starting Tuesday, the looks are slated to be unveiled today at the Palais de Tokyo contemporary art museum here.

In an exclusive preview, Lacroix told WWD about his most far-reaching fashion assignment to date, his long fascination with “stewardess” style — and how he managed to tame his decorative impulse to meet the airline’s tradition of neat, subtly aristocratic uniforms.

“I had to find the simplest everything in order to convince everybody,” Lacroix said. “I had to find a reassuring and handsome look translating comfort, French culture and safety.”

For inspiration, Lacroix was able to draw on a lifetime’s fascination with fashions worn by airline personnel. He recalled the Fifties’ “army-style nurse behaving like a mother,” the trendy beauties of the Sixties and Seventies epitomizing “Parisian chic with a little drop of futurism” and the bourgeois style of the Eighties, when flight attendants resembled elegant French ladies welcoming guests at their homes for lunch or dinner.

Lacroix’s proposition for 2005 and beyond is neither militaristic nor fashion-oriented — and it’s not even very uniform-like.

“I don’t like weird, too mannish or too military looks without femininity,” he explained. “The idea of seeing everybody clad the same is not really my cup of tea. I much prefer uniforms letting the personality, self-individuality or character appear.”

So Air France personnel — from ticket agents to pilots — will have about 100 apparel and accessories items from which to chose. The core item for women is a waist-conscious jacket with what Lacroix describes as “very couture pagoda shoulders.” Other key items are slim trousers, redingotes and parkas, all in dark navy and sky blue with red accents.

The Lacroix uniforms usher in the first major change since 1987 at Air France, which has gotten by with a famous shirtwaist dress by Carven and variations on other uniforms from that year by Nina Ricci, Georges Rech and Louis Féraud. Lacroix’s designs for Air France are expected to remain in service for at least 10 years.

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