When Vivienne Westwood started her career in the '70s as the high priestess of punk fashion with a look that incorporated safety pins, spiked dog collars, razor blades, and tartan reinvented as low-slung pants or "mini-crini" crinoline miniskirts, no one would have predicted she would be asked to design something as responsible as uniforms for a major airline. But times change and now Westwood has created a new line of outfits for Virgin Atlantic flight attendants.
There are nods to the designer's beloved 18th century, with a white jacquard frill blouse for female flight attendants that mimics a stock collar and was inspired by a design originally seen in Westwood's Red Label spring/summer 2005 collection. Similarly, the jacket evokes an 18th century riding coat with sharp lapels, a nipped-in waist, and a narrow cut that are typical of the designer. It's a reinterpretation of the Bettina jacket from the Gold Label fall/winter 1995 collection and is paired with a knee-length skirt. The accompanying overcoat has a similar swagger, with a large shawl collar that can be worn open and loose or buttoned up for a more equestrian effect.
Reflecting Westwood's environmental interest, the uniforms, all in Virgin's trademark bright red, incorporate polyester yarn reclaimed from recycled plastic bottles while the flight crews' handbags have been produced in collaboration with the Ethical Fashion Initiative in Nairobi.
Meanwhile, male attendants' uniform (above) features a burgundy suit inspired by sharp Savile Row tailoring with a contrasting charcoal vest. The Westwood uniforms will be rolled out on flights starting July 12 as part of a trial to make sure the new uniforms are as practical as they are stylish.