Vivienne Westwood to design new uniforms for Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic Airways has tapped fashion designer Vivienne Westwood to redesign its uniforms the airline announced Thursday.

The partnership between the two British brands will result in newly designed -- and eco-friendly -- uniforms for about 7,500 employees, including pilots, cabin crew and ground crew.

According to the announcement, Westwood’s goal with the redesign is “a futuristic look, which references her enduring interest in ‘40s French couture cutting techniques as well as the Savile Row tailoring heritage.”


For the men of the cabin crew that will mean burgundy wool three-piece suits with shadow details under the jacket lapels and pockets.

For the women logging miles in the aisles, it’s a jacket and pencil skirt combination that flatters the female form thanks to bust pleats, a nipped waist and a curved hip line -- in the eye-catching shade of red that’s become a Virgin signature.

It’s certainly not the first time airlines have turned to fashion designers (see the link to Times fashion critic Booth Moore’s 2001 piece “Sleek, chic at 20,000 feet” below), and not even Virgin Atlantic’s maiden voyage on that front -- the airline tapped Irish designer John Rocha for a 1998 overhaul of its uniforms.

(And one shouldn’t confuse the 28-year-old London-based long-haul airline with its kid sister, 5-year-old San Francisco-based Virgin America, which last year announced a uniform redesign of its own -- by Banana Republic.)

What will be new is the level of eco-friendliness. According to Virgin’s announcement, many of the pieces will be made from recycled materials (including polyester yarns made from recycled soda bottles) and the suiting fabrics will be treated with a “nano finish” designed to prolong the life of the garment.

Although the full launch of the redesigned uniforms won’t be implemented until 2014, Virgin’s announcement notes that some passengers may notice the new red threads as early as this July when the redesigned uniforms get a final test drive (make that fly).


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