Designing the look of Pan Am

October 2, 2011 8:29:50 PM PDT
If you watched "Pan Am" on Sunday, you know it's a trip back in time.

A walk down memory lane for some is for others a look at a generation they never got to experience.

So, how do they make it look so real?

"It's done so perfectly. It's built for movement so that you can say, 'let me get your luggage, or down this way, please,'" Ane Crabtree, costume designer, said.

Crabtree only plays a Pan Am stewardess in the costume room. She is the designer behind the looks of Pan Am. Inside her colorful office, off the set in Brooklyn, she creates, surrounding herself with Life magazines and asking questions about history and pop culture to travel back to the dawn of the jet age.

"What was the music people were listening to, the 20-25 set, which is the age of our stewardess crew? What was happening in the world at the time and even before that would have affected their parents? What films were they watching? What were their Hollywood icons?" she explained.

Inside Ane's wondrous closet, you have everything here from tailored 60's looks to pilots' hats to that iconic Pan Am stewardess uniform.

"It's beautiful on the body. We changed little. It's your classic stewardess suit," she said.

A shaped bust line, waist and hip is true to the time. The looks are fitted, quietly intriguing.

"It was all about not inaccessibility, but less. There was something very special that you're holding back just beneath the surface. I think folks and youth are starting to get that. It's more interesting not to give it all away, Crabtree said.

She shapes the costumes around that 1963 style philosophy. And, she gets inside each character's head.

"I'm thinking Maggie, Christina Ricci's character - what is her approach to being a stewardess? What is her journey?" she said.

Every outfit sets a tone and tells a story silently. One dress telegraphs innocence and hope for one character in a scene. A hat conveys another story entirely.

"Nothing says 'what a mysterious creature' than a hat that's subtly hiding your face," Crabtree explains.

She's on a constant hunt for hats, shoes, and racks of authentic 60's clothing. While her team made the blue uniforms and many other outfits. They also alter and add to thousands of existing pieces.

As you watch the Pan Am drama unfold every Sunday night at 10 on Channel 7 know too that the story is also taking place in the silhouettes of Ane Crabtree's costumes.