Dallas woman's vintage clothing collection takes off with flight attendant uniforms

Deborah Brown got hooked on collecting vintage flight attendant uniforms after going to a Braniff fashion show.

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The guest room at Deborah Brown's Dallas home is more of a museum; a place to store her vintage clothing collection.

"I have always been into vintage clothing, for years," Brown said.

Four years ago, Brown and some of her Women's Vintage Society of Dallas friends went to a Braniff fashion show that showcased flight attendant uniforms designed by Emilio Pucci for the former airline. Brown was hooked.

"And then they even made me an honorary flight attendant," Brown said with a gleam in her eyes. "So I went home and started shopping on eBay!"

Brown said she logs onto the site at least 12 times a day, looking for rare vintage flight attendant uniforms.

"This I only put on for special occasions," Brown said wearing a colorful printed vintage Pucci Braniff uniform. "The boots are very rare."

It's one of 122 vintage flight attendant uniforms from 22 airlines in Brown's growing collection.

"I mean, we may have a knock at the door right now," Brown said. "I'm expecting a package today!"

Many of the uniforms in Brown's collection are from airlines that are no longer flying.

"Trans-Texas Airlines," Brown said going through a rack of uniforms. "This is, um, PanAm. Edith Head designed their outfits...TWA had Ralph Lauren."

Her most rare and valuable piece might be the most bizarre.

"I have the space helmet for Braniff," Brown said. The clear helmet was intended to protect a flight attendant's hair as she ascended the steps to the plane. "These are pretty valuable."

"So it was a whole different, you know, timeframe," Brown said. "There was glamour. People dressed up to go on the plane."

Brown has many from DFW-based American Airlines. "I've got 'em back to the 1950s," she said.

Brown was never a flight attendant. So why collect flight attendant uniforms?

"Well, what other uniforms are there? Waitress uniforms. They're pretty interesting, too, I'm sure," Brown said laughing. "Don't get me started! I may start on that."

Brown's flight attendant uniform collection, in a sense, is a way to travel.

"Back in time, yeah," Brown said. "Even if it's my memory."

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