High Flyers: 75 years of Air New Zealand uniforms

Virtual exhibition

Air New Zealand holds a special place in the hearts of New Zealanders. As our national carrier we see it as an ambassador for the country. This is represented in large part by the airline staff and what they wear. High Flyers showcases 75 years of uniforms which illustrate the evolution of fashion and manufacturing trends. Most significantly however it gives an insight into how we want to be seen on the global stage, and how our idea of ourselves is changing over time.

From the formality and authority encapsulated in the military style uniforms of the early years the look changed to reflect the glamour associated with flying in the 1960s with uniforms designed by Yves St Laurent at the house of Christian Dior. Playful 'Jellybean' uniforms in the seventies came in shades of lime green and hot pink crimplene and were worn with knee high white boots and a bucket hat while today the Trelise Cooper designs embrace a similar bold approach to colour but with koru motifs and a pacific inflection.

These uniforms also track the history of our fashion aspirations and our manufacturing industry. They document the transition from wanting to look 'international' to becoming confident in our own local design capability and identity. Production too has changed from making everything in New Zealand to now having to take the majority off shore to be made.

With so much of our idea of ourselves invested in this particular uniform it has often been a subject of debate and occasionally controversy. How will our flagship carrier, Air New Zealand, represent us in the next decade?

Curated by the New Zealand Fashion Museum.

Supported by Air New Zealand.

Garments in the exhibition

When & where

Online only exhibition