Qantas has chosen one of the world’s best-known celebrity couples to model its uniforms from across the decades as part of its 95th birthday celebrations.
The models are Ken and Barbie, the planet’s most iconic plastic duo. The precise nature of their relationship has never been disclosed but Ken was introduced by US toymaker Mattel in 1961 as the fictional boyfriend of toy doll Barbie, introduced in 1959.
Ken and Barbie have always had a fantastically fashionable line of clothing and accessories – and now they are modelling Qantas. The airline has launched a unique and slightly quirky pop-up exhibition at its Sydney Qantas Club, featuring a collection of 44 Barbie and Ken dolls all wearing their own bespoke Qantas uniforms.
The exhibition is the start of a number of initiatives to mark the airline’s 95th birthday in November. It showcases the changing fashions of the times from the 1920s, when open cockpit flying meant Qantas pilots wore flying goggles and leather clothing to stay warm, to the flamboyant prints of the “air hostess” uniforms during the 70’s.
The collection is a labour of love by the late John Willmott-Potts, a former Qantas long-haul flight attendant who put together the uniforms over a 22-year period and matched them to Barbie and Ken dolls from a similar era.
Willmott-Potts passed away in 2010 and donated his collection to the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences in Sydney.
Qantas asked Australian born, Paris-based designer, Martin Grant to create a mini version of the current Qantas uniform that was launched last year to update the collection. The airline will gift the new pieces to the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences to add to the collection.
The dolls were originally used as part of a travelling interactive history lesson called ‘Stitches in Time’ that Willmott-Potts delivered to schools and libraries in rural NSW.
Qantas Group executive of brand, marketing and corporate affairs, Olivia Wirth said the pop-up exhibition celebrates 95 years of pilot and flight attendant fashion for the airline.
“There are some eye catching uniforms that form part of our 95-year history, including the bright green and blue floral patterned Pucci dresses from the mid to late 1970s, to the bomber jackets with fur trimmed collars worn by Qantas pilots before the second World War. Special mention to the Yves Saint Laurent flight attendant uniform from the late 80s with its oversized shoulder pads and heavy gold trim that was right on trend during that era”.
Qantas will display the 44 dolls for a four week period in the Sydney Qantas Club.
Edited by Peter Needham