When Angelica Navarro throws a dinner party, her guests eat off of plates that are older than she is. This isn’t her grandma’s china, though. Navarro owns a full service of dinnerware from Braniff airlines, plus silverware. And that’s not all. Over the past three years, Navarro has collected uniforms, blankets, playing cards, swizzle sticks and just about anything she could find from the defunct carrier. The hobby started with a passion for mid-century modern design. She discovered Braniff’s fashion-forward philosophy while researching Alexander Girard’s textile designs. Braniff hired Girard in the ’60s as part of its “The end of the plain plane” campaign. He redesigned everything from spoons to soaps to the aesthetics of the airplanes themselves. “I started reading about Braniff, and I was hooked,” Navarro says. Braniff had a glamour and luxury opposite of “flying in a sardine can,” Navarro says. Some of the collection has come from eBay, but that’s getting expensive, she says. A four-piece Pucci-designed stewardess uniform recently was offered for $5,000 there. Most of Navarro’s collection comes from antique stores and estate sales. She follows estate sale websites, and when she sees something she wants, she gets in line an hour before the sale opens. “At the estate sale where I found my Pucci umbrella, there was a line 50 people deep by the time it opened, and I was like eighth in line,” she says. “I was there almost two hours early.” Navarro’s Pucci-designed uniforms actually fit her. And a Halston-designed pilot’s uniform nearly fits her boyfriend. They hope to someday shoot their engagement pictures wearing the vintage uniforms at the Frontiers of Flight Museum. Navarro’s favorite piece is a guitar pick-shaped Girard-designed ashtray, which she found in an antique store for $40. “To me, it symbolizes how very special Braniff was,” she says. “It was ahead of its time, eccentric and fun. Everything that flying is not anymore.”
Read more about retro airline style in “Something special in the air”
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