Each year since 2014, here at the fashion pages of Confessions of a Trolley Dolly, we have been unveiling our Top Ten Cabin Crew Uniforms in our ‘Style In The Aisles’ section.
Airlines such as Vueling, British Airways, Emirates, S7 Airlines, Virgin America, Air France, Flybe, Singapore Airlines, Aeroflot, Finnair and jetBlue, to name a few, have all made it on to our annual list.
Over the years flight attendant uniforms have evolved and gained iconic status in the fashion world. Classic outfits such as the colourful Emilio Pucci designs for Braniff International Airways, the quirky Yves Saint Laurent kangaroo patterned combo for Qantas and more recently, Vivienne Westwood for Virgin Atlantic and Ettore Bilotta for both Etihad Airways and Alitalia, have all set the bar incredibly high in aviation couture.
All cabin crew get excited about their uniforms. They represent our airlines and we feel very proud to wear it. Let’s be honest, who doesn’t love strutting down an aircraft aisle, our very own catwalk, looking stylish, chic and utterly fabulous in a designer outfit.
So here is our 2017 Top Ten uniforms, a look at the best mile high fashions gracing our skies this year. Please let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
This years countdown begins with the absolutely STUNNING new uniform unveiled by Chinese carrier Hainan Airlines, at Paris Couture Week earlier this year.
Showcased during designer Laurence Xu’s Haute Couture show, held at the InterContinental Paris Le Grand ballroom on July 4, 2017; the uber-glam range combines classic Asian aesthetics with modern Western silhouettes.
Designer Xu said the looks were inspired by the ‘Cheongsam’, a traditional Chinese dress women usually wear on more formal occasions. Indeed, the female crew uniforms feature lots of traditional Chinese imagery.
On the lower hem of the colourful form-fitting dress, a pattern of alternating sea and mountains, contrasts with the collar’s auspicious clouds and sky. This draws a comparison between a Hainan aircraft that has just taken off and ‘the roc’, a mythical Chinese bird, expressing strength as it lifts in to flight.
The 3/4 length sleeves denotes simplicity and just the right amount of modesty, symbolic of the cabin crews high levels of competency. An apron is designed like a tulip-shaped dress, emphasising – in equal measure – elegance, femininity, aesthetics and practicality.
The male uniform appears to be a bit more western in structure, with a choice between a double-breasted overcoat or a sleek, mandarin collared jacket.
“The co-operation between Hainan Airlines and Laurence Xu is industry leading” Xu Fei, Brand Director of Hainan Airlines said; “We are not only creating a new uniform, but also showing the internationalized image of our airline”.
The stylish new looks, which are due to take to the skies imminently, have been in development for over two years. During this time the airline and designer talked frequently, going through more than 1000 design blue prints and trying out more than 100 samples of garments and accessories.
This is Hainan’s fifth uniform creation, since its formation in 1993. The last redesign, in 2010, saw the crew sporting a more corporate and conservative look.
The all business class carrier was founded in 2013, with the dream of bringing business class luxury and unparalleled service with low-cost fares. Running a twice daily service between Paris and New York, two of the world’s most stylish cities, means the airlines flight attendants also have to look the part.
The house surprised the aviation world by designing chic, yet practical culottes for the female crew, giving them an unmistakable look. Ladies can also chose to wear a pencil skirt and both are paired with matching jacket, white blouse and Celeste blue scarf. The result is original and elegant and the crew love it.
Male flight attendants are clad in a three-piece suit and blue knitted tie, all in the colours of La Compagnie – a strict grey anthracite and Azure blue.
March De Soultrait co-founder of the Vicomte A. brand said “The synergies between the two brands and their common values prompted the two groups to work together. At the heart of the collaboration is a Bermuda tailor for the hostesses which is almost never seen in the air, especially in the business. The result is truly original and elegant”.
While it’s far less formal than one may expect from a business class only airline, the finished product is perfect.
Introduced in 2011, Cathay Pacific’s latest uniform has not been without its controversies. In May 2014 the union representing the airlines cabin staff told bosses that they must change the outfit as it was too ‘sexy’. They claimed that skirts hugged female figures too tightly and blouses too short exposing their midriff, all leading to an increase in sexual harassment on flights.
Designed by Hong Kong fashion designer Eddie Lau, the new uniform was an ‘evolution’ of the existing ensemble, also created by Lau in 1999, which had undergone a further refresh in 2004. As well as looking stylish and matching Cathay’s long and proud brand image, the latest creation also had to take in to consideration factors such as working environments, variable climates of the route network, cultural and religious sensitivities, health, security and safety, as well as any environmental impacts.
For the ladies, pieces include rose-red skirts and jackets and a white blouse, created using a new fabric with a mechanical stretch for ease of movement. A matte champagne colouring complements the red on the standing collar and cuffs, and also the red apron. For Senior Pursers, champagne blouses are paired with burgundy jackets to set them apart from other crew.
Male crew members wear a dark olive, ottoman fabric jacket and vest in both dark and light olive colours, white long-sleeved shirts, black trousers and a red tie give a modern, smart and sleek look.
In the airlines long 60-year history it has had a total of ten uniform refreshes, including the Lau designs, in an effort to keep its brand fresh.
While designing the latest pieces, the team interviewed 100 of its frequent fliers and 1000 staff members.
On September 1 2017, Scotland’s National airline Loganair began to fly under its own name following 23 years of operating under franchise agreements with other carriers.
This massive milestone in the carriers history was marked by a bold new look for both its aircraft and staff.
Creating a distinctive image for its cabin crew, ground staff and engineers, Loganair has teamed up with Paisley based Matrix Uniforms to produce smart work-wear for its 300+ employees, which includes a distinct tartan look for its 90-strong cabin crew, tartan ties for pilots and a range of red and black outfits including weatherproof garments for over 200 ground staff and engineers.
The unique ‘Loganair Tartan’ has become entry number 11,744 on the official Scottish Register of Tartans. Even the new headrests on all of their aircraft feature the tartan and are partly made of stunning Harris Tweed.
Loganair’s Managing Director Jonathan Hinkles said: “I’m delighted that our exclusive tartan uniforms and aircraft livery will be taking to the skies from 1 September. The team have worked incredibly hard to make this happen and the results – whether it be our aircraft livery or uniforms – will make a tremendous impression for our customers but also around over 30 airports in the UK and Europe. The bold image means that we’ll immediately be recognised as Scotland’s Airline wherever we fly, whether we’re landing in Manchester, Bergen or the Outer Hebrides”.
For years Lufthansa has been known for its impeccable service standards and of course, the German flag carrier always ensures that it’s cabin crew are always impeccably dressed.
While not the worlds most recognisable, the uniform is crisp and uncomplicated, stylish, classic and conservative.
The female outfit was designed by leading designer Gabriele Strehle for fashion label Strenesse and the male uniforms by the Etzkorn fashion house. Both were rolled out back in May 2002.
Strehle worked on the outfits using the motto “evolution instead of revolution” – retaining traditional colours and elements with a novel “feminine style” and introducing new items such as an elegant summer dress.
For the female crew there are a total of 18 pieces including a navy figure hugging blazer jacket, navy skirt or slim-cut trousers and white blouse or navy dress; plus a retro-style, classic pillbox hat. The uniform also includes trench coats with detachable linings, dresses with zips behind the buttons to prevent nosy passengers taking a peek through openings and trousers without side pockets, preventing ugly bulges and superfluous creases.
Male crew can pick from a single or double-breasted jacket, yellow tie, crisp white shirt and briefcase.
In 2005 the airline also revived its traditional Bavarian ‘dirndl’ uniform to coincide with the Oktoberfest in Munich. The traditional folk costume, featuring Lufthansa’s colours of yellow, blue and white, is made by Munich’s Angermaier Trachten fashion house.
Women wear a yellow bodice, imprinted with blue flowers, a blue and white striped skirt and a blue silk apron. Meanwhile male flight attendants dress in traditional leather trousers, combined with a matching Alpine jacket and waistcoat and tie.
Garuda Indonesia has really turned its fortunes round over recent years. In 2017 its cabin crew were voted the best in the world, at the ‘Skytrax World Airline Awards’ and their stunning ‘Sarong Kebaya’ uniform mirrors the carriers ever improving image.
First introduced in 1989, the traditional and popular Kebaya was redesigned in 2000 with a simpler version, without the ‘Kain Panjang’ that was placed across the shoulder.
The current version, launched in 2010 was created by well-known Indonesian designer Josephine Werratie Komara, known simply as Obin. Obin also worked with Irma Hardisurya – a colour and image consultant; Ted Sulisto – architect and interior designer and most importantly Dianti Poetranto – a former Garuda flight attendant, who provided the practical input to create the most comfortable clothes for female crew. I love it when airlines actually utilise their crew, the people who will wear the pieces day in – day out, for their uniform designs.
Female crew wear a modified Sarong, inspired by the traditional batik motif of Parang Gondosuli, which has a philosophical meaning of ‘distinguished light in life’ and creates a sophisticated and elegant look. The uniform has three main colours: Tosca green, orange and blue, chosen based on the unique Indonesian textile tradition and in line with the corporate colours of the airline. Obin opted for the plain coloured top and batik motive material for the sarong, with a large brooch pinned in the middle where the two lapels meet.
Male crew attire comprises of a grey single breasted suit jacket, worn over a light blue shirt made of combined cotton and polyester. The silk tie has a graphic element, pattern and colour which reflects the airlines identity.
The fabric of the new uniform is made of a polyester-cotton material which is wrinkle free, comfortable to wear and allegedly fire resistant. Aside from a professional look, another important criteria in the design process was that it should allow for easy bodily movements by cabin crew, especially during an evacuation or other emergency process.
On October 18, 2016 Independent Irish carrier CityJet unveiled its trendy and stylish new uniforms at an exclusive fashion show at Dublin Airport.
Following months of behind the scenes work and much input by the airlines staff, the new uniforms were created by top Irish designer Aideen Bodkin, with design consultant Jane Byrne assisting with the overall process and liaising with staff.
The new uniform debuted across the airlines network in November 2016 and for the ladies includes a stylish two piece fitted suit or dress, with new neck scarves made up of the companies grey, gold and burgundy colouring, plus leather gloves and a new handbag.
Meanwhile the male uniform is predominantly a charcoal grey wool mix fabric with berry red piping detail on the pocket, matching the piping in the female uniform. The tie is in a shade of berry red with charcoal pattern using the chevron detail from the CityJet logo. A trench coat has a detachable hood and a quilted inner lining that can be removed meaning it can be worn for all seasons. Both male and female crew have a knitted scarf in berry red, adding a vibrant pop of colour to the uniform.
Speaking with Confessions of a Trolley Dolly about the new outfit Bodkin said “I wanted to create a modern clean look with classic touches for the uniform. My aim was to design a stylish new look that was flexible and most importantly comfortable for the staff”.
CityJet’s Marketing Manager Astou N’Diaye said “This new uniform is comfortable, practical and functional to wear, while providing a fresh, glamorous look that will prove a winner with our customers. We were delighted to have great inputs into the design by CityJet staff and thrilled that Aideen Bodkin was so successful in bringing those suggestions from the CityJet family together in such a creative and beautiful way”.
Tiger Air Australia
A far cry from the carriers first uniform offering following their launch in 2007, which included an animal print sash and tight blouse for female crew. This was slightly improved in 2010, when the airline opted for a more conservative look of dark slacks and white shirts.
The current uber stylish ensemble includes coolly colour-blocked shift dresses and long-sleeved tops in white, pewter, silver and tangerine.
The new look was based on a design by Tiger Holdings and were customised for Australia. Staff were involved throughout the creative process and outfits have been designed to take in to account the extremes in climate experienced from flying from Melbourne to the Top End.
Mr Rob Sharp, the airlines CEO said “The new uniforms will be worn by all pilots, cabin crew and ground staff so that all of our customers will see workers representing the same brand”. Sharp also went on to say that the new uniforms were also “another way of highlighting the fact that there had been big changes at the airline”.
Thomas Cook Airlines
In 2015 it was announced that the 7000+ employees of the Thomas Cook Group of airlines including Thomas Cook UK, Condor in Germany and Thomas Cook Scandinavia and Belgium would be kitted out in a brand new identical uniform, created by Bacher Work Wear.
Lucky passengers were given a sneak preview back in March 2017, during an impromptu fashion show on board one of Thomas Cook UK’s Airbus A321’s in Manchester, see the video below.
The new uniform, produced with high quality materials, to a high standard, all with a unique stylish look; means that cabin crew from Belfast to Brussels and Billund to Berlin will look uniformly identical across the group.
Speaking about the new outfit, the airlines crew have commented “I love my uniform, since it’s party of my profession and follows a long tradition of aviation apparel. The uniform is very classy through the royal blue, in combination with the golden stripes and represents me in a very elegant way. Having been unshaped and bulky for decades, nowadays my uniform has a feminine cut, especially the single breasted suits. Wearing it gives me a good feeling and makes me proud every single day”.
Thomas Cook Airlines Group uniform project leader, Christine Berger-Danzinger said “Our project was launched with the goal to unify the uniform for all crew members in the Group Airlines. Our objectives were to ensure crew satisfaction and positive appearance but keeping in mind the individual country regulations and unions’ requirements. Instead of designing a complete new uniform we came to the conclusion to base the uniform on Condor’s current design and quality. The uniform is a very emotional factor for cabin and cockpit crews and acts as a contributor to crew engagement, motivation and is the business card of our Group Airlines. The differences of culture are the challenges in our project – but it helps us growing together as one team”.
Taipei based China Airlines introduced its retro/space age new cabin crew uniform in 2015 as part of their ‘Next Generation’ programme which saw advancements in their fleet and on board product.
The uniform, designed by Oscar-nominee costume designer William Chang, has three different colour combinations for both men and women, representing each crew role and is a fusion of traditional Mandarin gown and modern Western fashion.
It’s Chang’s first foray outside the movie sector and speaking at the launch he said “I’m designing fashion, not a uniform”.
Female flight attendants have a very elegant white and slate look, while senior crew members wear red and violet, very iconic and instantly recognisable.
A new shoe was also designed to complement the uniform, with the functionality focusing on comfort and the need to stand for extended periods of time. Divided in to high heels for travel and flats for on board, the shoe design includes blue decorative lines and sapphire colours that hint at the corporate colours of the airline.
The design retains the form of the traditional ‘cheongsam’ yet incorporates modern fashion concepts and looks. The results are figure enhancing and gives both the male and female wearers an energetic look.
The male crews duotone block jackets are fashion forward and the addition of the red accent on the lapel helps tie them in with the female uniform.
So there we have our top ten cabin crew uniforms for 2017. What do you think of the list and who would you like to see on next years?
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