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A Complete Look at Virgin Atlantic's Hotly High Style Vivienne Westwood Uniforms

July 7, 2014 at 3:17 PM | by | ()

The Virgin Atlantic look is sharp, iconic, sizzling; there’s no denying the head-turning appeal of a crisp white blouse tucked into a scorching red pencil skirt, topped off with red heels. But, with the celebration of the airline’s 30th Anniversary this year, it’s about that time for a snazzy refresh so as to continue “flying in the face of ordinary,” as the airline’s slogan goes. For this, Virgin Atlantic paired with UK designer and punk powerhouse Vivienne Westwood. The new uniforms were just unveiled July 1 in London, and will roll out for all Virgin Atlantic staff, from cabin crew to flight crew, and desk agents to Clubhouse hospitality.

Alas, a flash of the new uniform as it swishes down the airplane aisle isn't enough to appreciate the detail. Aside from the fact that it’s now easier to care for with a new tech “nano finish" (the earlier uniform was dry clean only) and yarn made from recycled plastic bottles, there are small secrets hidden in every dart and under each lapel, telling the story of the collaboration between England’s flag-carrying airline and one of the country's most iconic fashion influences.

Although the uniforms don’t officially take flight for the entire Virgin Atlantic fleet until September 1, keep an eye out for a preview on your next VS flight; crew have been heading to the airline’s Base near Gatwick Airport to pick up their full looks since this past weekend. Here's what to look for:

· Most pieces are based on runway designs from Vivienne Westwood’s past collections, including the “Bettina,” whose nipped-in waist and high, fold-over collar now carry over into the red jacket for female cabin crew.

· This is no matter of simply ticking S, M, L on a uniform order sheet; every employee wearing the Virgin Atlantic uniform (around 7,500 in total) is personally fitted for the designer duds.

· The menswear shoe is a classic leather oxford, but with a patent cap toe. Despite the fact it ties with laces, the design allows for easy slip-on and slip-off. This allows for a proper compliment to the Savile Row-style three-piece suit without compromising safety standards.

· Even the purse gets the Westwood attention, done in red leather with Vivienne’s trademark diamond-shape accents. Being an “it bag,” the interior of course sports a “Vivienne Westwood for Virgin Atlantic” label.

· The women’s shoe is a red heel, of course, but with a Westwood-signature hourglass silhouette and the option of three heights.

· The design of the men’s ties, replicated on the silk scarf worn by female pilots and Spa staff, are wings hand drawn by Westwood.

· The men’s trousers are available in either slim or regular fit, but mirror the subtle design touches of the jacket regardless (for example, the grey shadow pocket lining matches the effect of the jacket lapels)

· Notice that there’s no epaulet stripes on the shoulders of the flight crew jackets; instead, rank is denoted by champagne and gold braids on the cuffs.

· For the first time in Virgin Atlantic history, female pilots have their own suit, rather than just a petite version of the men’s look. They’ll sport a smart double-breast jacket with Bettina-style collar and slim lapels, accented by the hand drawn Wings-design cravat.

· Since the new uniforms are for all Virgin Atlantic customer-facing staff, your waiters and Spa staff within the airport Clubhouses are absolutely being re-suited and booted. All will be relaxed in slim black jeans from Westwood’s Anglomania line, but the men of Clubhouse hospitality will stand out the most in their three-button Victorian waistcoat with super cool trompe l’oeil bowtie shirt.

And it wouldn’t have been a Virgin Atlantic unveil without a celeb-studded party. Not only did Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens (Cousin Matthew!) and Jessica Brown Findlay (Lady Sybil), Doctor Who’s Matt Smith, Kelis, model Lily Cole, and Bond girl Naomie Harris show up to toast the new attire with Branson and Dame Vivienne, but Debbie Harry sang with her band Blondie on what was coincidentally her 69th birthday. Even the venue was appropriately Westwood punk; East London’s Shoreditch neighborhood supplied raw brick vaults under the London Overground railway tracks for the shindig.

Soon Virgin Atlantic will have even more to celebrate as they prepare for the delivery of their first Boeing 787 Dreamliner. For now, however, the shiniest thing receiving compliments in Virgin Atlantic's skies are wings of a tinier sort—the ones on the lapels of these new uniforms.

We traveled to London as a guest of Virgin Atlantic for the uniform unveil, but most photos and all opinions are completely our own.

[Photos: Cynthia Drescher, Virgin Atlantic]

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