Alitalia’s Designer Uniforms Through The Years

On May 5, 1947 the first Alitalia flight took off from Turin bound for Rome. From then the airline grew to become one of the world’s most iconic airlines.

But for many years, the carrier has also been one of the worlds most troubled airlines. These troubles came to a head on August 14, 2021 when the last ever Alitalia flight (AZ1586) touched down in Rome shortly after 10pm. The following day the new Italian flag-carrier Italia Trasporto Aereo S.p.A. or ITA for short took to the skies.

Alitalia struggled for many years and the COVID-19 pandemic was the final nail in the coffin for the troubles airline.

The New York Times once complained that the company was more well-known for its “trendy aircraft interiors and flight attendant uniforms by designers like Giorgio Armani, rather than for service or punctuality”.

Indeed, throughout these tumultuous years, Alitalia’s cabin crew have alway been the epitome of glamour and style, their Italian elegance soaring high – taking the ‘Made In Italy’ business card around the world.

Here we take a look at some of the fabulous uniform designs over the past 70+ years.

Sorelle Fontana, 1947-1964

The first Alitalia cabin crew uniform was designed by sisters – Micol, Zoe and Giovanna Fontana, who founded the fashion house ‘Sorelle Fontana’ in Rome in 1943. The designers later became popular with the international jet-set, dressing stars such as Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly.

Alitalia had recently introduced the four-engine Douglas DC-4 and began serving hot in-flight meals, making the carrier one of the most popular amongst international travellers.

The Fontana sisters style of uniform was a representation of women working outside the home for the first time after the war.

A simple and elegant design in navy blue – pieces included a long dark skirt that fell well below the knee, complete with a three button jacket all made of a fireproof fabric.

Click on an image below to enter the gallery.

Delia Biagiotti, 1964-1966

In 1964 Delia Biagotti (mother of Laura Biagotti, who went on to set up ‘The House Of Biagotti’ – one of Italy’s largest fashion houses) designed an updated Alitalia uniform.

Biagiotti’s modernised uniform included knee-length skirts and ¾ sleeve blazers, in paler blue colour with an overall style very representative of the 1960s.

Click on an image below to enter the gallery.

Tita Rossi 1966-1969

The Tita Rossi fashion house of Rome designed a further update to the uniform in 1967. The smart outfit, in a much darker colour, mirrored the fashion of those years.

A knee-length skirt was complimented by a short, double-breasted jacket with oval neck, white blouse with Ascot tie and pillbox hat.

Click on an image below to enter the gallery.

Mila Schon, 1969-1972

In 1969 Alitalia updated it’s livery from the ‘Freccia Alata’ bow and arrow to the stylised “A” ‘tri-colour’. The new livery adorned Alitalia aircraft for many years and was easily recognisable and immediately associated with the italian carrier – thanks to the strong visual impact of the A with the colours of the Italian flag that fitted perfectly on to the aircraft tail. It also coincided with the introduction to the fleet of the Boeing 747 ‘Jumbo-Jet’.

With the arrival of The Boeing 747 ‘Jumbo Jet’ came another new uniform.

Schon reinvented the uniform – introducing miniskirts skirts and boots and creating ‘uniformity’ in the colours with ‘green Italy’ being the focal point. Bright apple green and pink/red was added to the collection, which also included a wool suit for the winter, a stylish cape and fashionable accessories like buckle moccasins, bow hats and scarves to be used as head covers or tied to the bags.

Mila Schon later went on to design uniforms for Iran Air in 1972.

Click on an image below to enter the gallery.

Alberto Fabiani, 1973-1975

In 1973 Milanese tailor Alberto Fabiani was put to task designing the airlines fifth new uniform. Fabiani was renowned for his clean lines, quality tailoring and conservative yet imaginative women’s clothing.

So it came as quite a surprise when the designer unveiled the apricot coloured uniform to the world, a complete contrast to the more traditional greens, reds and darker colours of previous years.

The new outfit also marked a transition from tailor-made pieces to standard sizes for the first time in Alitalia’s history.

Click on an image below to enter the gallery.

Florence Marzotto, 1975-1986

The Florence Marzotto designed uniform was introduced in 1975.

The skirt once again fell below the knee with the pomegranate ‘fire-red’ suit – a symbol of the 1970’s. As the eighties approached the uniform transitioned to green blazers and sweaters paired with navy skirts.

Click on an image below to enter the gallery.

Renato Balestra, 1986-1991

Renato Balestra was born in Trieste in 1924. For a number of years, he designed for the theatre and cinema until the success of the first ‘Renato Balestra Label Collections’ convinced him to choose to focus on the fashion world.

In 1986 Balestra returned to a very classic Alitalia design with a new style and distinct colour tones. The three-button jacket was blue with a green trim, the skirt – in regimental blue with green stripes – was matched with a green sweater and a white shirt with a collar closed by a blue knot, it also featured a green-and-blue-striped pattern on the sleeve and on the pocket.

Click on an image below to enter the gallery.

Giorgio Armani, 1991-1998

In 1991, Giorgio Armani revolutionised the look of Alitalia’s female cabin crew when he redesigned the uniform, while also collaborating on interiors for the carriers new aircraft.

The legendary Armani uniform, with its unmistakable double-breasted jacket in the typical Armani style, used a neutral and autumnal colour palette – including a ‘military’ olive green for the blazer. Pieces include a masculine shirt, alabaster blouse, a handkerchief in light dusty pink and just above knee-length light brown skirt.

Flight attendants wore the new uniforms for the first time on June 1, 1991 on a flight carrying Pope Jean Paul II to Warsaw.

Click on an image below to enter the gallery.

Mondrian, 1998-2016

In 1998, after choosing between 10 designers, Alitalia bestowed the privilege of designing the carriers iconic uniform to ‘Gruppo Nadini di Vignola’ located near Modena, Italy. The company works under the trademark ‘Mondrian’.

Alitalia crews approved the modernised design and colours chosen for the new look and this design was worn by the airlines crew for almost 20 years

The green jacket with the colour of the Italian flag was unmistakable.

Click on an image below to enter the gallery.

Ettore Bilotta, 2016 – 2018

In 2016 stylist Ettore Bilotta was tasked with bringing back the ‘Made Of Italy’ design to Alitalia’s uniforms. And ‘Made Of Italy’ it was. Bilotta designed the pieces in his atelier in Milan, the female outfits are made with fabrics from Tuscany, with silk worked in Como; while the men’s stunning suits are made in Puglia and leather accessories worked in Naples. The shoes are from the Marche region.

The inspiration comes from the glamour of the glorious ‘jet-set’ era of the fifties and sixties.

The designer used Italy’s architecture, monuments, daily lifestyle and different regions of Italy to create the stunning pieces. For example, the terraces of the ‘Cinque Terre’ in Liguria, influenced the design of the new, unique female hats.

The cut and colours of the collection were chosen to complement the silhouette of the wearer and the mixture of fabrics – made up of 96% of fine Italian wool, with the remaining 4% of elastane.

For female uniforms, the burgundy colour that gradually turns on a lighter red was obtained using a chevron print design. The same is also used for the uniforms of female ground crew, in which the anthracite grey colour gradually turns to green . This process takes place on every garment supplied, including the white chevron blouse on tapered columns, which are red for flight crew and green for the ground. Each set of women’s uniforms includes three options: a suit, a broken suit consisting of jacket and skirt, or trousers.

The men’s uniform also features a two-colour chevron design – anthracite grey and forest green – and includes a double-breasted vest that has the same colours as the jacket, with inverted colours for the ground crew. A red patterned tie compliments the uniform of their flight colleagues, while ground staff wear green.

The collection is completed with burgundy woollen crepe coats for stewardesses, green for stewards and female ground and anthracite grey for male ground personnel. While accessories such as ties, waistcoats, cardigans, scarves, belts, shoes, gloves and bags perfectly balance the uniform and feature contemporary and classic Italian design elements that make them all-round fashion items. Leather accessories are forest green for flight attendants, burgundy for their ground colleagues, black for stewards and their ground colleagues.

Click on an image below to enter the gallery.

Alberta Ferretti 2018 – 2018

Despite Alitalia’s financial woes it was announced that the airline would once again be redesigning its cabin crew uniforms, just two years after the Bilotta offering.

Described by the airline as “timeless and elegant,” the new look was introduced after crew began complaining about issues with the Bilotta apparel. Whilst the uniform looked good, many complained that it was uncomfortable and difficult to wear.

Female crew could choose from a number of options – including a skirt suit, trousers and a dress. The signature Alitalia red and green graphic logo that appears on the waist and cuffs brought the individual pieces together.

The uniform came complete with satin gold buttons engraved with the Alitalia ‘A’, white cotton blouses and shirts, silk ties and foulards and 100% wool knitwear for the cold winter months. Both male and female uniforms were created in a lightweight fine gauge dark blue wool to allow for base of movement.

Barbie Doll Dollies

In November 2011 Alitalia and the Barbie Collection website ran a Facebook competition ‘Barbie Loves Alitalia’ allowing the public to vote for their favourite Alitalia Barbie – dressed in ten historical uniforms.

The competition gained much attention from the numerous supporters of both brands with over 20,000 fans voting for their winner which turned out to be the uniform designed by Delia Biagiotti and re-proposed in miniature for Barbie in the most glamorous details. Second place went to Mile Schoen, followed by Mondrian in third.

Unveiled during a glamorous party during the Rome Film Festival, and featured in Vanity Fair magazine, this collection is now displayed permanently in the Alitalia store in Piazza di Spagna, Rome.

Alitalia’s Ettore Bilotta uniform also featured in our ‘‘Style In The Aisles – The Top Ten Cabin Crew Uniforms 2016’

© by Dan Air.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.