Here we take a look at some of the best and most glamorous flight attendant uniforms gracing our skies this year.
Cabin crew are the front line ambassadors for every airline and uniforms need to be über stylish and instantly recognisable, allowing us cart tarts to stand out from the crowd as we strut our stuff through airport terminals across the globe. As well as looking good, cabin crew must also feel good and uniforms need to be comfortable and practical as we spend so much time in them.
Recently, airlines and designers have began to look back to the ‘jet-set’ era, when flying was a glamorous and exciting experience and everyone wanted to be a flight attendant, for inspiration when creating new uniforms. Even the low-cost carriers are ‘bringing back the glamour’ with their designer influenced and retro styled outfits.
Just like last years Top Ten we’ve tried to ensure that the very best uniforms have been included so please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.
First up has to be the stunning new Etihad uniform, designed by Ettore Bilotta, at his atelier in Milan, which went live across the airlines network on December 27, 2014 to celebrate the launch of the carriers new flagship A380 service between Abu Dhabi and London Heathrow.
Bilotta had designed the airlines previous uniform back in 2003 and working off Etihads brand palette ‘Facets of Abu Dhabi’, used to create their striking new livery, the new pieces are based around the warm chocolate-brown deep and purple colouring.
All items are made from 100% Italian wool and approximately 30% of each individual outfit is handmade. For the female crew a smart chocolate-brown skirt suit is accessorised with fitted long brown diamond texture gloves, a belt, slim line handbag and beautiful scarf, featuring intricate geometric patterns and fretwork. A stylish new double cut and aerodynamic hat harks back to the jet-set era. Cabin Managers wear a bright Magenta hat, compared to the brown of other crew.
For male flight attendants, a smart and elegantly fitted grey three-piece suit is accessorised with new items such as belts, leather gloves and a golden orange neck tie. All staff also have a light weight, versatile and foldable trench coat, suitable for all types of weather.
I’m sure you’ll agree that the new uniform is a stunning, fresh and modern take on a classic look, which is exactly what the airline envisaged on their quest to make ‘flying reimagined’.
Europe’s largest regional airline, Flybe has recently been going through a period of transformation, including the introduction of their stunning new purple uniform.
For many years the airlines crew had sported a bold red uniform, but in early 2014 it was time for a change and with purple being integral to everything that is now Flybe, the colour was an obvious choice for the new uniform.
Formally launched in July last year, the airlines crew had a hand in designing the new male and female outfits, providing some valuable input from a practical point of view, while the final design and manufacturing process was left to uniform suppliers Dimensions.
For the girls a skirt or trouser suit is available, all in the new Flybe brand purple. A service waistcoat is provided as well as a ‘loop through’ style neck scarf in a purple/light blue/ white striped design, similar to the new ‘purple plane’ livery. Crew are allowed to express their own style to the uniform through a choice of earrings and how they style their neck scarf. A purple handbag is also currently being trialled which has been specifically designed for the airline.
For the boys, a three-piece suite in a special Flybe dark navy, set off with touches of aubergine and a purple waistcoat. The purple is then further emphasised with a purple/aubergine/navy striped tie.
The new uniform is certainly striking and the retro style really embodies the look of flying in years gone by, capturing the elegance and glamour, all with a modern twist and practical touches to make it comfortable for the crew.
Although Flybe’s uniform may not have a designer name attached to it, the gorgeous colour scheme and nod to the glamorous jet-set era certainly makes it one of my personal favourite uniforms this year.
(A massive thank you to the uniform and press team at Flybe for their help with this piece)
The only American carrier to make this years list is the fabulous jetBlue, who in 2014 teamed up with designers Stan Herman and Michael Schwarz to introduce a stylish new ensemble for their crew, the first since the airlines launch in 2000.
The designers worked closely with employees before finalising the design. “I’ve never had that much input from employees before” Herman said. Even the pockets were modified after speaking with technicians.
The new uniform, crafted for men and women, features a slimmer dark blue silhouette, trimmed with bright orange and is simple and sleek, combining modern elements with some retro touches.
For the ladies, “We looked at it as not just a uniform, but as fashion: shorter, sleeker, tighter” said Schwarz. The figure hugging wrap dresses are accented with pops of orange and are easy care meaning crew can simply wash and drip dry, perfect for days away from home.
The mens uniforms sees a subtle but eye-catching grid of orange dots on the back, with the addition of a jacket for ‘style, not formality’. “We took a modern approach to what a jacket could do” said Herman.
“I know i’m prejudiced, but I love it, I love it, I love it. jetBlue marches to its own beat and we’re very proud that we’ve done its first and new uniforms, which are very different from other airlines. Uniforms used to have three to five years of shelf life. But today they’re so variable” explained Herman. Schwarz said that designing the new jetBlue uniform was a challenge, simply because the old ones were so well liked.
The launch of the uniform pieces coincided with the introduction of the carriers new ‘Mint’ onboard product and the accompanying photo shoot took place in the old TWA ‘Saarinen Head House’ terminal at JFK airport.
Ever the industry leader, the airline decided to use the left over pieces of their old uniform and ‘up-cycle’ them in to the ‘jetBlue Uniform Bag Collection’, a line of five items which includes a toiletry case and back pack, allowing savvy travellers and aviation geeks to own a piece of the airlines history.
Emirates is one of the world’s leading airlines and it comes as no shock that its cabin crew uniform is one of the world’s most recognisable. So iconic is the uniform that it has remained relatively unchanged since 1997, with just a few minor tweaks. Well if it’s not broke why fix it?
In 2008 it was announced that in an industry first, the airline would be teaming up with UK-based manufacturer Simon Jersey, rather than a world-renowned fashion house, to give the uniform a slight make over, although to the untrained eye there is very little difference.
The refresh carried forward the strongest components of the existing iconic outfit and was launched to coincide with the arrival of the carriers first Airbus A380 aircraft, before being rolled out across the network by May 2009.
The female crew wear a classy mushroom coloured suit with subtle chocolate and red pinstripe. Inverted kick-pleats on the skirt shows a flash of red when the ladies are walking to further enhance brand recognition. A more fitted chic cream blouse is trimmed with red for FA’s and cream for purser’s. Like many airlines, the colourings of hat differentiates the crew from purser, with FA’s wearing red and purser’s sporting a chocolate-brown.
For the boys, a rich chocolate suit with a subtle cream and red pinstripe is complimented by a cream coloured shirt and caramel and honey coloured tie, that has diagonal red stripes. Purser’s wear a brown and cream tie.
Throughout its history, the Middle Eastern carrier has a retained its strict uniform regulations. The signature headpiece must be worn during specific parts of the trip and any time the crew are in public, during boarding and disembarking and it must be worn two fingers width above eyebrows. The crews are also told exactly how to fold the scarf, so that it is tucked in a specific way.
Speaking at the time of the launch Terry Daly, Emirates’ Divisional Senior Vice President said “In this new design we have addressed style, comfort, the suitability for different climates for cabin crew and ground staff and managed to retain the iconic and recognisable hallmark of our uniform worldwide”.
In December 2011 Finnair relaunched its cabin crew uniform to coincide with their brand renewal.
The redesigned outfit, by Ritva-Liisa Pohjalainen a renowned Finnish jewelry and clothing designer, is in a darker shade of blue compared to the previous icy blue hues, used for almost ten years. The dark navy colours are contrasted with stripes of cherry blossom white.
The uniform has several different parts, including a dress, blouse and trousers, allowing staff to choose from several different looks and to have their own individuality, while always maintaining the Finnair style. Rather than using colours to differentiate roles onboard, stripes indicate a crew members rank. Uniform regulations include wearing gloves during take off, landing and during the safety demonstration.
Speaking of the new ensemble Pohjalainen said, “It is a great privilege to be able to provide my own expertise to this uniform renewal. The most important thing is to observe the needs and functionality of the uniform while not forgetting the visual image”.
So impressive is Finnairs cabin crew’s uniform, it ranked as the fifth most stylish uniform by French magazine ‘Bon Voyage’.
Check out the YouTube video below which details the uniform launch and includes an interview with designer, Pohjalainen.
Air Malta is one of the worlds smallest airlines with just ten Airbus aircraft in its fleet, but its cabin crew are one of the most stylish.
In 2012 as part of the carriers massive re-branding – ‘Flying the Pride of Malta’, new uniforms were introduced to the crew, costing the airline a whopping €700,000 to implement.
A simple grey suit is complimented by colourful scarves and ties which reflect the design and colours featured in the airline’s bold new livery and mirror the uniqueness of the Maltese Islands with their proud heritage, colours, culture, symbols, hospitality and language. Additional accessories were also added, designed with the airlines brand identity to compliment the new uniform.
The new pieces went down well with both crew and passengers. Joe Fava, Section Head Flight Services said: “All our crew were really pleased to receive so many positive comments from the public, both at the airport and during flights”. Similar positive comments came from the cabin crew themselves, who uploaded numerous pictures of their new uniform on social networks. They praised how the new outfit was not only aesthetically attractive but very ‘practical to work with’.
Russian carrier S7 Airlines, member of oneworld alliance, introduced a new uniform for its flight attendants in December 2012, initially with a winter outfit, followed by new summer pieces in July 2013.
The former drab, dark grey colouring was replaced with a bold crimson suit, intended not only to match the airlines bright colour scheme, but also to create a welcoming atmosphere onboard the aircraft.
For the females, the capsule wardrobe consists of 14 pieces, allowing crew to combine individual items and create an image to suit their style and shape. This includes for the first time a crimson dress and jacket with branded buttons, grey trousers and skirt, a white and grey blouse, plus a removable collar and cuffs. These are complimented by a green neck bow, leather belt and hat with the S7 logo, made of light cyan fabrics.
Male FA’s have eight items to choose from, including a three-piece suit, shirt and tie. An apron is also included as part of the uniforms.
The selection of suitable fabrics was one of the major problems for the designers. It is important to use breathable and durable fabrics, as the outfit must not hinder the movements of the flight attendants so natural, wrinkle-proof, breathable fabrics such as wool and silk, with the addition of synthetic fibres for durability and greater elasticity were chosen.
“In our job we have to move all the time. We help passengers with luggage, walk around the cabin to offer lunch, the new uniform lets us do all that really easily. Uniforms often restrict you, but ours allow us to feel elegant and comfortable at the same time, which gives us confidence. The bright colour lifts the spirits, and with a sincere smile it is so much easier to help any passenger, however demanding they might be”, said Anna Kornisheva, S7 Group Flight Attendant Trainer.
The concept was developed by designers from the Russian company Rusmoda. “We managed to create a classic feminine look. The striking and unexpected crimson is what catches the eye here. At the same time the colour looks perfect with any skin tone or hair. The strict silhouette is smoothed by the polka dot pattern, accentuated waist, and rounded collars and cuffs”, noted designer Alexander Terekhov.
Thai Airways has won numerous awards over the years for their exceptional quality of service and this is thanks to the exceptional quality of their cabin crew. Their unique purple uniforms are often praised as one of the best in the world and is certainly one of the most iconic, living up to the airlines motto ‘Smooth as silk’.
The airline embraces both traditional Thai imagery and modern designs with their classy, timeless and elegant crew uniforms.
Females are required to wear their corporate purple outfit for use outside the plane, before changing into a traditional Thai dress, prior to passenger boarding the plane and remain in this while onboard. However, if the FA is not a Thai national, then she will not be allowed to wear the traditional Thai uniform. All female flight attendants wear a fresh purple flower in their lapel which ties the outfit and airline brand together perfectly.
Over the past few years, Fiji Airways has gone through a period of massive transformation. From changing its name from Air Pacific, to the introduction of the frankly stunning uniform for its cabin crew, the once ailing carrier is now a highly respected and well recognised brand around the world.
The new friendly, relaxed, modern, yet authentic uniforms are stylised to the Fijian attire of Sulu Jaba and Bula wear and reflect vibrant aqua colours, to present a balance with the airlines new cabin interiors featuring sophisticated, earthy tones of Fiji. Although the new pieces do not have the precise tailoring or capsule wardrobe element of other airlines, the relaxed look is fitting to the predominately leisure traffic the airline carries.
The uniforms feature three distinct masi motifs created by celebrated Fijian masi artist Makereta Matemosi. The Qalitoka symbolises the unity of people to complete a task, Tama symbolising friendly service, and Droe, which means clear blue skies and cool breeze on beaches.
The process to create the new Fiji Airways uniform started in March 2012. Designer Alexandra Poenaru-Philp was selected from a pool of Fiji-based designers after an extensive selection process. Her initial ideas on the design received an overwhelming approval rating from a cross-section of the airline’s cabin crew and the Uniform Design Committee, which included personnel from the Fiji Airways Cabin Crew, Guest Services, Marketing and Corporate teams.
Poenaru-Philp says the designs capture what the airline needed the uniform to be. “The new airline branding is seeking modernity while keeping the traditions of Fiji alive” she said. “So we determined that re-visiting the sulu jaba (traditional Fijian attire) for women and the Bula shirts for men, in a very modern way, would be the best way to respect this tradition and modernity. The aqua reflects the wonderful colours of Fiji, from clear blue skies to the oceans and the brown signifies respect”.
Air New Zealand
When the initial plans for Air New Zealand’s cabin crew uniforms were revealed in 2010 there was uproar. With comparisons to Barbie’s flock wallpaper, a drag queens outfit and being disrespectful to traditional Maori symbols, it’s fair to say that the airlines staff and Kiwis everywhere were far from impressed.
But when the final designs were rolled out in July 2011, there had been a number of changes to the uniforms, designed by New Zealand fashion designer Trelise Cooper and the new ensemble cemented the carriers long line of iconic uniforms which over the years has included creations from Nina Rici and Christian Dior
The contemporary new look is based on a twist of traditional New Zealand themes with a cohesive visual uniformity, while still allowing individual choice through the variety of pieces, which can be put together to make up the uniform depending on personal preference.
Female cabin crew options include a dress, two different skirts, trousers and four different types of shirts and blouses which they can combine with the choice of three different suit jackets. The patterns on the dress are variations on the Air New Zealand Koru. Each piece is designed to be more feminine and tailored following extensive feedback from the crew.
Males look dashing in a dark pinstriped suit with patterned ties matching the females dresses. This is complimented by striped shirts, which have ‘Kia Ora’ embroidered on the cuff.
“I fly regularly” said Cooper “and understand that functionality for the wearer is just as important as how you look. It is extremely gratifying to create a collection that can suit a variety of body shapes and work requirements”.
Be sure to check out cheapflights.co.uk ‘The Style High Club’ look-book of their favourite airline fashion from the UK and across the globe.
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