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Web site records high fashion

By Nick Easen for CNN

Modern stewardess styles are drab compared to previous creations.
Modern stewardess styles are drab compared to previous creations.

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(CNN) -- Collecting airline memorabilia is nothing new. The moment Concorde was scrapped, spare parts were sold to enthusiasts.

Every day on the online auction site eBay, sick bags and airline dishes swap hands.

But one unique collection of cabin crew uniforms is developing quite a cult following, even though post-9/11 security concerns make them a little harder to obtain. is a microcosm of flight attendant history down the years.

Its founder, Cliff Muskiet, a KLM steward, first developed the passion when his parents gave him a Dan Air stewardess doll as a child and his first uniform in the 1980s.

"Only a few people think it is strange that a guy collects ladies uniforms," Muskiet told CNN.

"They start making funny jokes like: 'Do you also wear the uniforms?' Because it is a very unusual hobby."

Over the last thirty years Muskiet has amassed over 270 hats, scarves, skirts, blouses and accessories. And it is defunct age-old carriers that provide some of the most amusing apparel.

If you like Braniff International frocks designed by Pucci; canary yellow coat dresses and short white ones from Allegheny Airlines with the name emblazoned all over the material -- it is all here in the collection.

"Tyrolean Airways uniforms are also wacky. I have a long Tyrolean dress, very typical for the region, but a bit too much for a flight attendant," explains Muskiet, who has been flying with the Dutch carrier for the last 20 years.

A far cry from today -- now you can hardly see the difference between a flight attendant uniform and a female business outfit someone would wear to work.

Muskiet reminisces the colorful 1960s and 70s when bright psychedelic colors and patterns were in-style and when most uniforms had gloves, a hat, and other accessories.

"They were very feminine and trendy. Remember the hot pants, mini skirts and the short A-line dresses?" he asks.

"In those days stewardesses and uniforms were used as marketing tools to attract passengers. The airline uniforms usually set a trend in fashion."

Having a Web site allowed Muskiet to share the collection with a wider audience beyond the Netherlands. And in 2002 the site was "pick of the day" on Yahoo. It now gets up to 1,000 hits a day.

Since he asks airlines for free uniforms or obtains then from those now out of business, Muskiet feared September 11, 2001, would be the end of his hobby, but since then the collection has continued to grow.

His oldest uniform is a vintage 1958 Delta Airlines one that cost $150. Yet some fetch much more -- a Pan Am uniform from the 1920s can be worth up to $1,000.

"I am not always happy with that because I do not always have money available to buy all the uniforms I would like to have," says Muskiet who stores his collection at home.

His hobby has reached such notoriety that his collection will appear at the National Dutch Aviation Theme Park "The Aviodrome" in Lelystad this February or March.

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