Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Space Age Savoir Faire

Pierre Cardin. One almost shudders when we hear the name, but there was a time when it wasn’t so. I still have hopes for Monsieur Cardin, and believe him to be one of the most influential designers of the 20th century. Way before he sold his name and licensed everything from socks to linoleum this man and his designs had style and panache. Sure he paved the way for nearly all the major couturiers to launch prêt a porter collections, and made certain elements of style available to the masses, however he goes far beyond that.

In the late 1960’s Monsieur Cardin was heralding in the Space Age, when everything spacey was becoming fashionable, from movies, to furniture. His fashion designs from this period are heralding the beginning of a Brave New World, which had the public dressed to kill in vibrant and functional designs, which the whole family could wear.

Clothes appeared almost unisex with the same design with only a few tweaks being worn by both men and women.

Not only were clothes functional, but there was a certain amount of sexiness too. These were modern day amazons and gladiators ready and willing to fight the establishment, with savoir faire. Normal suits were hastily reduced to being so out of date when compared to a Cardin design.

Monsieur Cardin had definite ideas as to what the public and those in professions serving should be wearing including nurses as shown below.

Just imagine if Monsieur Cardin had had his way? One thing for sure, was that he was always at the forefront of innovation.

Airline Advertising with Style

I am always constantly amazed at how much style and savoir faire existed late last century where air travel is concerned. Even though air travel and jet travel especially, has always been the domain of the high flying executive or business man jetting around the world, there was a time when the travelling vacation public was just as important. This was reflected in the advertising posters that adorned travel agencies, airline offices and airports. They promised exotic locations, a fun time and most of all a chance of escape as envisaged by the best graphic artists of the time.

TWA enlisted American Artist David Klein to create a series of iconic posters that convey all the excitement that each destination could offer. Colours were bold, bright and beautiful which provided the viewer with a visual feast that was an escape from his own humdrum existence. He used landmarks from each city and paired them down with modernist ease, so that they were still instantly recognisable.

Pan Am used strong graphic cultural images of each destination, to convey the message that each destination was definitely different from the one that Middle America was escaping from. Swissair and Sabena of Belgium used the same technique with images portraying the exotic and cultural delights of each destination.

United and National were promoting travel at home, with posters that would entice you with the promise that you could jet to an exotic location with in mainland USA, where horseback riding or the French flavour of New Orleans would greet you.

Posters were fun, that immediately made us think, mmmmm Las Vegas, now that looks glamorous! They were also about national identity, especially for the airline involved. As long as the reassuring words of Pan Am, United, TWA or Braniff was somewhere on the poster, we knew that we were in good old American arms and culture shock would not be too hard to cope with.

So, please let me walk past a Travel Agency or Airline office, and see what travelling was all about. The exotic, the glamorous and the exciting all in the comfort of my 707, operated by a national carrier, with some savoir faire!

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