Monday, 19 July 2010

Uniform Freak

New Uniforms for KLM Royal Dutch Airlines by Mart Visser, launched Autumn 2009/Spring 2010. Image courtesy KLM Corporate Communications.

Am currently in the midst of researching and writing an article on new developments in fashion curation. One of the strands I am looking into is the development of the Internet as a tool for fashion researchers and curators. As I have written about briefly before, the websites of museums and galleries are now being looked at as a way for general members of the public, and scholars, to access archives, sometimes purely as a ''quick reference'' guide, and some with more detailed descriptions of artefacts and close-up pictures. Both the British Museum in London and the Museum at FIT in New York are examples of this. In taking this to the next stage, however, using the website as an exhibition site or gallery space, as with my own Fashion Souvenirs project, is perhaps the next stage in this development.

Surprisingly, most museums and galleries seem to utilise their website purely for promotional purposes. One example that differs from this though is Uniform Freak, a collection of air stewardess uniforms collected by Cliff Muskiet, an airline and uniform enthusiast, so much so, in fact, he even works for KLM. In the same spirit as my own project, the Uniform Freak site is both an exhibition and a valuable archive of a particular, niche type of clothing, one that is overlooked by more main-stream collectors of clothing or dress. Uniform Freak's collection is certainly extensive and impressive, with 921 uniforms from 383 airlines (and growing!), from from big-name national carriers like BA, KLM, Lufthansa and Quantas, to small regional and charter airlines, to new low-cost carriers, like Martinair, Easyjet, Tyrolean and Azzura Air. Several 'extinct' airlines are also represented, like Sabena, Cross Air, BOAC and Pan AM, a valuable resource in the presentation of the glamour of air travel, as represented by the air stewardess, in past eras. The photographing of each uniform on the same mannequin provides a symmetry and cohesion to the overall display. Understandably, Muskiet is very protective of his collection, so images of the uniforms are not downloadable directly from the website, but it certainly offers a valuable visual reference of an overlooked aspect of uniforms and dress, and perhaps provides a clue as to how fashion curators can develop and make best use of the website as a viable exhibition or archive space.

To view the Uniform Freak collection visit:

For those interested in other travel-related/flight attendent blogs the following are highly recommend for their informative and entertaining content: - Check out the Souvenir Sunday rubrique! - Heather Poole's Another Flight Attendant Writing, one of the best and original FA blogs - Tales from inside and outside the cabin of a Frankfurt-based FA - For everything you ever wanted to know about being an FA

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