Air India ‘s New Uniform for Pilot, Crew Designed by Manish Malhotra

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Taking style literally sky-high, Air India gets a makeover with Manish Malhotra’s designs as it changes uniforms for its cabin crew and pilots after 60 years.

After much speculations about whether the flight attendants of airplane carrier Air India will likely move on to more contemporary attire, the new couture for cabin and cockpit crew are out and no, they did not abandon the saree instead, ace designer Manish Malhotra gave it a twist with the trendy pant sarees or saree pantsuit in “three quintessential Indian colours – red, aubergine and gold, representing the confident, vibrant new India.” The airline’s chief executive officer (CEO) and managing director (MD) Campbell Wilson, in a rebranding event on August 10, announced that the airline’s new livery will be seen first in the A350 aircraft, the first of which was expected to be delivered in October.

Taking to their respective social media handles, Air India and Manisha Malhotra dropped a video featuring an animation of the new outfit sketches with a promise of “new journey”. The video was captioned, “We are proud to present to the world, the all-new Air India Pilot & Cabin Crew uniforms, designed by @manishmalhotraworld Each design, through its colours, style and elements, represents where we come from and the window of possibilities ahead of us. #AirIndia #NewUniform #FlyAI #ManishMalhotra (sic).”

Having designed these uniforms in his Mumbai studio, Manish shared, “There have been times when halfway across the world I have caught a glimpse of an Air India and felt closer to India again. In the earlier years, they (cabin crew) actually used to wear lehengas and maang teekas. For me, designing these uniforms for the new era was an incredibly exciting chance. I wanted to stay true to Air India’s roots while weaving in my own vision to represent the new chapter we are stepping in.”

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Till 1962, the female crew of the airline wore a skirt, jacket and a hat but the idea to make them drape sarees was that of late JRD Tata and the first sarees were sourced from Binny Mills. Rumour mills had it that churidars would be one of the options for women while the male crew members might wear suits and the sarees will take a back seat.

However, the only change in attire seen is that for some female flight attendants, the traditional petticoat has been replaced with pants or trousers, offering a more comfortable and modern alternative. The pictures still show women draped in sarees along with some donning a pair of palazzo pants or wide-leg trousers worn underneath a draped saree in a stylish and fashionable manner, resembling the traditional saree drape but adapted to accommodate the pants.

If you like us have your finger firmly placed around the sartorial pulse, you would be aware thar pant sarees have gained popularity for their fusion of traditional and contemporary elements post the Covid-19 lockdowns, providing a chic and hassle-free option for women who want to embrace the elegance of a saree while enjoying the comfort and ease of wearing pants. India’s leading couturier Manish Malhotra successfully gave this modern twist to the traditional attire where a blend of tradition and modernity was desired as “an ode to Air India’s rich history and a promise of a bright future.”