Air New Zealand reveals new 'Barbie' uniform

Last updated 05:00 09/01/2010
Air New Zealand
PINK SWIRL: Female cabin crew will feature in candyfloss pink described by one flight attendant as something a drag queen might wear, while a sky blue tie is a feature of the uniform for ground and inflight managers.

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Thunderbirds are out and "drag queen" Barbie is in.

Air New Zealand revealed last night its new "concept" uniform design – complete with a candyfloss pink colour scheme – created by Kiwi fashion designer Trelise Cooper.

The uniform will be introduced in 2011 to coincide with the introduction of a new fleet of 777-300 aircraft. Cooper was chosen over 25 other New Zealand designers to come up with the new designs.

Airline spokesman Ed Sims said the uniform, to be worn by more than 5000 staff, was "contemporary", based on New Zealand themes that still allowed individual choice by addressing body type and personality preference.

"We have also been working closely with Trelise to ensure the uniform colour palette works in harmony with our soon to be unveiled new aircraft interiors," he said.

A flight attendant who spoke to The Dominion Post but who did not want to be named, said the uniform resembled the look sported on the airline's annual themed flight to Sydney's Mardi Gras festival. "The flight attendants look like drag queens off the Air New Zealand 'pink' flight."

Though Air New Zealand said the uniforms would suit a "variety of body shapes and work requirements", the attendant said the colour would show up spilt food and drinks. Patterns were not usually recommended for larger body sizes, and a shorter length would also have helped create a more slender look.

The male flight attendants' uniform and ground staff uniform was "very professional", but she said the female cabin crew uniform was let down by its colour. "I haven't worn that colour since I was five."

Jack Yan, publisher of fashion magazine Lucire, said the patterns fitted with the heritage of Air New Zealand, but questioned the colour choice. "I know airlines find differentiation very important today, but I've some doubts on whether pink conveys any national values."

The present uniform, designed by Kiwi label Zambesi and launched in October 2005, drew controversy and was described as having a "Thunderbirds" look.

Air New Zealand said the final design for the new uniform would be completed over the coming months.

- By GREER McDONALD and KIRAN CHUG

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- The Dominion Post

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