5 Memorable Airline Uniforms By Renowned Designers

Some of the best designers in the world have collaborated with various airlines to create stunning uniforms for their flight crews; here are five memorable ones that are truly runway-worthy. 

One might not expect the worlds of high fashion and aviation to collide, but their partnership is a long-standing one. Indeed, the aisles of your favorite airline are runways in their own right. If you take a closer look at members of its flight crew, you may find them wearing stylish pieces by some of the world’s greatest luxury fashion houses and designers. 

Even miles away from the ground, airlines ensure that their staff look professional and fashionable. After all, they’ll be keeping passengers company throughout their airborne journey, so they need to look their best. From Balenciaga to Vivienne Westwood, here are five memorable and chic flight crew uniforms that’ve captured people’s imaginations throughout the decades: 

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Cristóbal Balenciaga x Air France (1969)

Legendary Spanish designer Cristóbal Balenciaga opened an entire Air France department within his fashion house to design the airline’s 1969 uniforms, as per the SFO Museum website. The entire ensemble is functional yet sleek, featuring a knee-length skirt with kangaroo pockets, a blue wool serge with flip pockets, and a distinguished riding hat. 

The 1969 Air France uniform by  Cristóbal Balenciaga
The 1969 Air France uniform by Cristóbal Balenciaga/Photo via X @SFOMuseum

“He wanted individual fittings because he didn’t want to see ill-fitting uniforms,” explains John Hill of the SFO Museum in a CNN interview with Madison Park. 

An Air France flight attendant wearing the Balenciaga uniform
An Air France flight attendant wearing the Balenciaga uniform/Photo from the “LES UNIFORMES | Air France” video via Air France’s official YouTube channel

Valentino x Trans World Airlines (1971)

Next in the lineup is Valentino Garavani’s uniform collection for Trans World Airlines in 1971. The set featured pieces with a professional, almost corporate feel to them, according to the SFO Museum website. The designs also came in different color variations, namely purple, brown, and beige, as per the SFO Museum on X.

The Trans World Airlines uniform in beige, designed by Valentino in 1971
The Trans World Airlines uniform in beige, designed by Valentino in 1971/Photo via X @SFOMuseum

The collection also had both pants for women and men’s wear, which made for comfortable yet stylish attire in the air. A scarf with the name “Valentino” completed the outfit with an elegant touch, while the flight crew’s choice of pumps or go-go boots added a playful spin to the look.

The Qantas x Valentino uniform in action
The Qantas x Valentino uniform in action/Photo via X @SFOMuseum

Yves Saint Laurent x Qantas Airways (1986)

French designer Yves Saint Laurent fully utilized vibrant colors when designing the flight uniform for Qantas Airways in 1986. The eye-catching ensemble boasts a palette of rich primary colors like yellow, blue, and red, with the airlines’ signature kangaroo motif as patterns on its scarf and dress. 

The Qantas Airways uniform by Yves Saint Laurent
The Qantas Airways uniform by Yves Saint Laurent/Photo via X @SFOMuseum

The uniform’s jacket is emblematic of the “power-suit” designs Saint Laurent was famous for in the 1980s, as per the SFO Museum website, featuring large padded shoulders, wide lapels, a narrow waist, and a cropped style. 

Crew wearing the Qantas Airways uniform designed by Yves Saint Laurent in 1986
Crew wearing the Qantas Airways uniform designed by Yves Saint Laurent in 1986/Photo from the Qantas website

Virgin Atlantic Airlines x Vivienne Westwood (2014)

A newer entry to this list is Virgin Atlantic’s flight uniform collection by the late and great Vivienne Westwood. The airline launched it in 2014, with pieces that represented Vivienne and Virgin Atlantic founder Sir Richard Branson’s commitment to the environment. Each piece is made of recycled polyester yarn from plastic bottles, and sports a “nano finish” that helps it last longer and stay vibrant over the years, according to a Virgin Atlantic press release

Virgin Atlantic uniforms designed by Vivienne Westwood in 2014
Virgin Atlantic uniforms designed by Vivienne Westwood in 2014/Photo via Instagram @virginatlantic

Of course, the uniforms are as stylish as they are sustainable, with their bright red fabrics that reference the airline’s official colors. Virgin Atlantic’s press release adds that the piece sport a “futuristic look” that harkens back to Westwood’s fascination with 1940s French couture and Saville Row tailoring. 

China Eastern Airlines x Christian Lacroix (2018)

China Eastern’s uniforms by fashion house Christian Lacroix are the epitome of grace and refinement with their put-together look. “Our uniform combines traditional Oriental charm with French style elegance,” the airline wrote in a Facebook post

The China Eastern flight uniforms in 2018
The China Eastern flight uniforms in 2018/Photo from China Eastern Airline’s Facebook

One can indeed see these influences on the ensemble, which combines a neck scarf with classic Asian designs with a sleek silhouette and hat that are reminiscent of classic French couture. Contrast plays a big role in these pieces, with red belts and accents on navy blue fabrics, creating an overall look that certainly turns heads.

Banner photo from China Eastern Airline’s Facebook.

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