6 Nov 2023

Designer to the stars will create new Air New Zealand uniforms

12:00 pm on 6 November 2023
Fashion designer Emilia Wickstead

Photo: Supplied

Air New Zealand cabin crew, counter staff and pilots will soon be sharing a designer with the Duchess of Cambridge and Hollywood royalty.

London-based fashion designer Emilia Wickstead has beaten more than 40 other Kiwi contenders to create the next iteration of the national carrier's uniform.

Air New Zealand chief customer and sales officer Leanne Geraghty said Wickstead "stood out as the perfect partner" to create uniforms for more than 5000 cabin crew, front of house ground staff and pilots.

"Emilia presented outstanding initial designs that were creative, unique, and will set Air New Zealand apart on the global stage. She also demonstrated her understanding of the importance in creating a uniform that is both functional and comfortable for our people.

"Her ability to create modern yet timeless pieces perfectly fits with what we were looking for in a design partner - someone who could create a uniform that our people can wear with pride now and into the future," Geraghty said.

Wickstead, 40, grew up in Auckland before moving to Milan as a teenager with her fashion designer mother, Angela Wickstead. After graduating with a degree in fashion design and marketing from Central Saint Martins in London, Wickstead moved back to Milan and worked for designer Giorgio Armani.

Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and his wife Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge react as they paint a part of a painting with Columbian artist Dairo Vargas, during the first Global Ministerial Mental Health Summit, co-hosted by the UK Government and the OECD, in London on October 9, 2018. The Mental Health Summit will see political figures, leading academics and policy-makers from around the world come together with one common goal: better mental health for all. The meeting is set to help countries work together to deal with stigma attached to mental health and address other issues to do with mental ill-health. (Photo by Eddie MULHOLLAND / POOL / AFP)

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, wore Emilia Wickstead number for the Global Ministerial Mental Health Summit in October 2018. Photo: EDDIE MULHOLLAND/AFP

She moved back to London and started her own label in 2008. Since then, Wickstead's ladylike tailoring has been seen on everyone from Queen Rania of Jordan and the Duchesses of Cambridge and Sussex, to actors Emma Watson and Gwyneth Paltrow, and singer Lady Gaga. In September 2019, then-Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern wore an Emilia Wickstead top when she appeared on the front cover of British Vogue magazine. Dresses from her current collection start at £791.67 (NZ$1634.57).

Wickstead, who lives in London with her husband and two children, said she "couldn't be prouder" to get the Air New Zealand gig.

"This is a true passion project for me; one that further connects me with my homeland Aotearoa, and the community and places that I love.

"My approach to the uniform centres around a deep respect for New Zealand's cultural heritage. First and foremost, it is inspired by people. I'm a big believer that clothing can be transformative, uplifting and empowering, and my hope is that the new uniforms will instil a sense of pride and purpose in Air New Zealand's incredible, world-class team."

Wickstead's final designs will be revealed in late 2024, following design refinements, onboard trials and consultation with uniform wearers.