If you’re a celebrity, chances are your outfit from your last flight is splashed across a glossy magazine, along with snaps of other celebs in oversized (and overpriced) shirts, dark sunglasses, and the latest, fur-lined slip-ons. Fans and followers create a huge demand for airport fashion photos, and photographers are more than happy to deliver.
But where did the hunger for flight fashion start, anyway? Have people always been curious about their off-duty idols? Or did social media eradicate the lines between on- and off-air, giving the hungry public a glimpse of a celebrity’s life outside a studio?
Airport Fashion in the Age of Hollywood
Though social media is credited with the rise of airport fashion, the habit of sporting a chic ensemble in the departure area is almost as old as Hollywood itself.
The huge price tag on airfare was the culprit. In the early years of travel, people were curious to know what celebrities wore in airports. After all, only the rich could afford a seat on a plane, and they set themselves apart by putting on their best dresses.
Celebrities, who have an image to protect, took this mindset more seriously. Travel was, in itself, a luxury, and it became the daytime equivalent of a red carpet.
Take the fabulous Zsa Zsa Gabor, for instance, one of the most sought-after Hollywood actresses of the 50s. She showed off her jewels, furs, and leather goods every time she flew, so much so that the Telegraph wrote, “Gabor used the airport as her catwalk.”
Fashion at the Tarmac Today
As airfare became more accessible and affordable, the glamour and image of luxury that was tied to air travel dissipated. Passengers thought of riding a plane as something as ordinary as taking a roadtrip or riding a boat. If it’s not a special occasion, then it doesn’t merit your best Sunday dress.
Racked, a fashion e-magazine, dates the second rise of airport fashion to around 2005, when TMZ started an intense celebrity coverage campaign. By 2008, the Los Angeles Times reported that paparazzi were a constant presence in the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), snapping photos and selling them to media agencies, who, in turn, sell them to the public.
It’s not just Hollywood. On the other side of the world, K-Pop fans camp outside airports with enormous lenses, always on the lookout for their fresh-off-the-plane idols. Once snapped, it’s shared on social media, where several rounds of sharing will occur.
What’s There to Love?
Unlike the glamorous air travel of old Hollywood, the practical aspect of today’s airport fashion is what draws the public. In the Philippines, star coverage broadcasted on affordable LED TVs doesn’t show celebrities clad in fur coats, silk gloves, and over-the-top jewels. For the most part, celebrities wear simple, easy pieces — staples that every other person could afford. Whether it’s in Korea or LAX, the pieces are pretty much the same: oversized jacket, tights, scarves, sneakers, and sunglasses.
Even if celebrities wear sneakers that cost a few thousand bucks, you can find something that’s similar and wear it to your next flight. Nobody would take your photo, but at least you can travel the way your favorite celebrity does. It’s a whole different experience, after all; it’s as if you’re putting yourself in the shoes of a star.
Have a safe flight. And stay fabulous!