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Erarta Exalts High Society

Published: January 31, 2014 (Issue # 1795)



  • Dancing on the runway is just one of the many images celebrating the golden age of Air France and KLM airlines.
    Photo: For SPT

  • A vintage Air France plane.
    Photo: For SPT

  • Air France stewardesses with young passengers.
    Photo: For SPT

  • KLM Stewardesses.
    Photo: For SPT

As you walk into Erartas new exhibition, Air France and KLM: The History of the World Airlines, the first thing you are reminded of is that once upon a time, traveling by air was a fabulous event something to be celebrated and to dress up for. Its a far cry from the air travel we know today where the glitz and glamor of boarding a plane has been replaced with lines, delays and tracksuits especially onboard a budget airline.

Through a series of rare black and white photographs from both Air France and KLM archives, visitors are instantly transported as far back as 1920 when civil aviation was just beginning and proceeds to showcase vintage images up until 1970.

With Air France having celebrated 60 years up in the air last year and KLM celebrating 95 years this year, making it the oldest European airline operating under its original name, the exhibition was brought together as a way to recognize these landmark anniversaries.

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Split into two rooms, the first gallery is dedicated to Air France, mostly showcasing its famous passengers over the years. Launched in 1933 as a consolidation of the biggest airlines of the time (Air Orient, Air Union, SGTA, CIDNA and Aeropostale), Air France quickly expanded and by 1938 was flying to over 85 destinations with some of films biggest stars onboard. Walking along, you encounter photographs of timeless beauties such as Audrey Hepburn, Sophia Loren, Elizabeth Taylor and Jane Birkin, each effortlessly posing as though they were on movie set rather than on an airline staircase. The men from Hollywood are equally as young and attractive and include a dapper Sean Connery, a handsome Marlon Brando and a charming Frank Sinatra, all dressed to impress as they grin at the camera before boarding the plane.

While the star power alone in these series of photographs is impressive enough, what makes them truly enjoyable is the close-up, personal nature of them. Yet, despite their Hollywood smiles, it is actually the photographs of the perfectly groomed airline crew that outshine the celebrities hanging on the wall. With past uniforms designed by Christian Dior, Cristobal Balenciaga and Christian Lacroix, the stewardesses at Air France are nothing short of stylish, graceful and fashion forward. The pride felt from working onboard is clearly evident on their perfectly made-up faces.

Not to be outdone, the men working onboard are just as chic, as the KLM photographs in the next room prove. Dated 1938, one particular photograph shows a group of stewards dressed in flashy three-piece suits, complete with a captains hat and bow tie as their standard uniform.

Despite a less star-studded affair on the runway, the KLM archived photographs, released from the Maria Austria Institute in Amsterdam, are no less impressive, ranging from vintage planes to well-dressed passengers and even parties held on runways.

Photographs of a (horrifyingly) basic-looking cockpit from the 1930s and an even more sparse-looking cabin from the 1920s, however, make you wonder how anyone had the nerve to board the plane. It then makes you wonder if when people in the future look back on how we travel by air today, will it be more with horror or nostalgia?

Air France and KLM: The History of the World Airlines is on view until Feb. 10 at Erarta Museum, 2, 29th Line, V.O. Tel. 324 0809. For more information, visit: www.erarta.com





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Oct. 31


Put your grammar and logical thinking to the test in a fun and friendly environment during the British Book Centers Board Game Evening starting at 5 p.m. today. The event is free and all are welcome to attend.



Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at todays Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nations premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the citys elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolans latest film Mommy at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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