Of all the high-fashion garments you’d expect to come from a haute couture designer, a flight attendant uniform probably isn’t one of the them. But, it's more common than you think, with designers like Balenciaga and Lacroix helping lead the way in the mid-20th century. Laurence Xu is continuing the tradition with his recent update of the Hainan Airlines attire. To prove that these practical garments can also be eye-catching looks, they headed to the fashion runway before the tarmac. The line appeared in the 2017 Laurence Xu show in Paris on July 4. There, models donned sleek, slim dresses and tailored jackets (for women) and suits (for men).
The outfits fuse different characteristics of two distinct cultures. Hainan Airlines explains that they “combine elements of classical, time-honored Oriental aesthetics and the silhouette of a modern Western suit, infusing new vigor and fashion into the attire.” The result elevates the concept of a uniform by taking it from its dull associations and making it into something people want to wear.
Of the series, the major standout is the women’s dress. Its style is a riff on cheongsam, which is a traditional Chinese dress for women. Using an Oriental art-inspired pattern, the imagery includes clouds printed along he collar with an alternating sea and mountain motif on the lower hem. This playful detail corresponds to the type of journey a Hainan aircraft would take from ground to sky.
Although a brand new styling, Xu’s update is the fifth refresher of the uniforms since the airline was founded in 1993. His designs hearken back to previous generation of outfits by using a gray color scheme that's accented with Oriental-influenced art.