Flight Attendant Fashion Gets an Upgrade
Runway to jetway! Zac Posen's designs will bring "modern American glamour" to the skies, Delta says. We've got all the details AND a look back at Delta fashions past and present.
Fly with style! Delta Air Lines has partnered with fashion designer Zac Posen, who will design uniforms for flight attendants and airport customer service agents, and advise on uniforms for Delta’s ramp and ground support agents. His structured mermaid-style ball gowns are popular on the red carpet, but we non-celebs can shop the more affordable ZAC Zac Posen line (from $195, shopbop.com) and Truly Zac Posen wedding dresses for David's Bridal (from $500). The new Delta looks will hit jet bridges in early 2018.
What will the uniforms look like? It's up in the air. First, Posen and his team will interview Delta employees about what they want and need in a uniform. Then comes the design process. Says Delta: "Posen's brand of modern American glamour pairs well with Delta's brand attributes, and he will be personally engaged throughout the multi-year project."
Airlines are no stranger to collaborations with fashion designers: Emilio Pucci put his famous prints on Braniff International Airways stewardesses in 1966, complete with an astronaut-like plastic bubble helmet to protect their hairstyles from inclement weather. Just last year, Vivienne Westwood unveiled her vibrant red collection for Virgin Atlantic. Other partnerships didn't quite get off the ground, like Cynthia Rowley for United Airlines, nixed in 2011, post–Continental merger.
Delta hasn't paired with a designer since mid-2006, when Richard Tyler released the uniform that the airline's flight attendants wear now. Geek out with us over our favorite pics of Delta's uniforms from the 1940s to now, below. Things get really good around 1968...
Two words: those shoes. Where can we get a pair of spectators just like them?
The winter uniform in action. Not sure what we like more: how chic this look is, especially with the carefully tilted pillbox hat, or that vintage Coca-Cola bottle.
Still ultra-sleek, but with pared-down black pumps.
If you were a female traveler in 1947, chances are your hat game was strong. That went for flight attendants too—hats were required.
This white-and-navy summer uniform wouldn't look out of place at a cocktail party today.
The '60s didn't start swingin' right away (wait for it...), but as casual elegance goes, this belted wool gabardine dress nails it. Which makes sense: It was designed by Academy Award winner Edith Head.
The mid-'60s winter look couldn't be more Jackie O if it tried, from the flip to the suit to the gloves.
The later-'60s summer uniform: still pretty staid. Want a plain old magazine? Too bad, you get a sensible binder. What would you guess that the contraption by the passengers' heads is? Nope, not a personal heating and air conditioning system. Not a proto-intercom either. It's "an over-the-shoulder light in the correct position for reading at any angle you reclined the seat," says Delta's archives director. It was a feature of the Douglas DC-8.
So mod, so cool. Flight attendants even got groovy matching belts to go with their winter shift dresses.
Boots make an appearance! Sixties, is this all you've got for us? Tasteful ensembles we could still wear today?
Finally, 1969 brings us something truly out of time: pointed, beehive-protecting huntsman hats designed by milliner Mae Hanauer that do not appear to be a joke.
The serving smock in "wrinkle-free polyester" (naturally) gains steam—as do scarves, now that hats are no longer required.
More '70s awesomeness: If you've always wanted to wear a scoop-neck, vaguely superhero-like tank top over a crisp white collared blouse, 1973 to 1975 would have been your era.
Leisure suits for him and her! Let us take a moment to gaze upon these masterpieces, available in "sky blue" or "camel."
The leisure suit shouldn't hog all the mid-'70s attention. The "city print" serving smock, emblazoned with the names of each of Delta's destinations, came in not one but two colors. Here's #1, in blue.
And here's smock #2, this time worn over two layers of wide collars and topped with a scarf. Bold choice. Not as bold as the passenger wearing a plaid sport coat with a paisley tie, but bold nonetheless.
Say what you will about the serving smock, but the early-'80s apron was a lot of look in its own right. As far as I'm concerned, this flight attendant is a hero for wearing it and smiling at the same time.
Remember the pussy bow? So does the '80s! All joking aside, this uniform lasted until 2001, just with a few updates in 1991 and 1996, including new scarves and ties.
One jaunty sweater vest, coming right up! Business casual was all the rage in 2001—a mere two years after the movie Office Space was released.
Mini update in 2003: the white shirt.
Famed fashion designer Richard Tyler designed these uniforms, which Delta flight attendants still wear today. Note the siren-red wrap dress. Your move, Posen.
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