memories of the ’70s – Braniff International Airways

The unique design and decor of the 1970s took on the friendly skies with the unique approach of Braniff International Airways in this decade.

An airline since the 1920s, Braniff International Airways decided to make its mark in the 1970s partnerships with artists and designers – all because of new owner Troy Post, who took ownership of the airline in 1965.

Post decided to take a radical look at gaining ground in the competitive airline industry with using design and style to differentiate his airlines. He hired advertising agency Jack Tinker Associates, and created a team with architect Alexander Girard, fashion designer Emilio Pucci and shoe designer Beth Levine.

Girard recommended the airplanes be painted in a solid colour, instead of the previous Braniff red, white and blue, with a smaller, distinctive BI logo.

Planes were now seen in orange, turquoise, purple, baby blue and yellow. Seven colours were originally chosen by Girard for plane exteriors, which was then increased to 15.

Aircraft interiors, gate lounges, ticket offices and the corporate headquarters in Dallas, Texas were all converted with these bold colours, and enhanced by art from Mexico, Central America and South America.

Braniff stewardesses were now called hostesses, and were given several options for uniforms, all designed by Pucci and Levine. One of the initial items was a clear helmet, but was soon dropped as there was no place to store them on-board the aircraft.

The new marketing campaign included Andy Warhol, Sonny Liston, Salvador Dali, and the Playboy Bunny as happy passengers – with the marketing tag line “If You’ve Got It, Flaunt it!”.

In 1971, Pucci welcomed a new Braniff airline which was named “747 Braniff Place” with a showcase at the Dallas Hilton Hotel of the latest uniform designs for Braniff staff.

The airplane was the 100th 747 built by Boeing and became the flagship of the airlines. Dallas-based retailer Neiman Marcus chose 747 Braniff Place to fly to Europe to shoot a new fashion campaign for the store.

In 1973, artist Alexander Calder was hired to create a new exterior for planes, which was named Flying Colours, and was showcased in Paris in 1975, while in 1977, Pucci was replaced with American designer Halston, to design the uniforms for Braniff Airlines hostesses.

Known for style, the airline was the talk of the industry, despite its average passenger load hovering at 50 per cent. But with the deregulation of the airline industry in 1978 came major changes and a direct hit on the financials for Braniff International Airways.

Declaring bankruptcy in the early 1980s, Braniff made a mark on the industry with distinction that hasn’t been repeated.