Air India cabin crew given fresh sari look by fashion designer Manish Malhotra

Indian couturier best known for opulent bridalwear creates ready-to-wear garments

The new uniforms still feature the traditional sari. Photo: Air India
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Air India has unveiled a new look for cabin and cockpit crew, designed by prominent couturier Manish Malhotra.

In a clip shared on X, formerly known as Twitter, the designer says: “Air India felt like more than just an airline to me.”

Contrary to earlier rumours that the airline is dropping its sari look for female crew, the new design still includes the traditional Indian attire, along with a blouse and a blazer. There is also a more comfortable trousers option for female staff.

Meanwhile, the men receive a bandhgala suit with, similar to the women's uniforms, colours indicating seniority.

“In the earlier years, they actually used to wear lehngas and maang teekas. So, for me, designing the uniforms for the new era was an incredibly exciting chance to create a new representation of India across the globe,” says Malhotra in a video that shows him looking at archives of old Air India uniforms.

He says he wanted the design to stay “true to the roots” of the South Asian country while weaving his own vision into it.

“Through the window of a new India, I began exploring quintessentially Indian hues: a beautiful deep red, aubergine and an elegant gold,” Malhotra explains. The colour work is the celebrity designer's stamp, featuring ombre hues.

The women's uniforms also have intricate patterns drawn from the silhouette of a classic Indian window, or the Vista, which the airline also used in its brand revamp earlier this year.

As well as the uniforms, Malhotra designed footwear for the crew too. Female flight attendants will adorn black and burgundy dual-tone block heels, while the men will wear black brogues.

The new uniform of the cockpit crew also follows the classic route, with a small embroidery of the new Air India logo.

The aviation fashion shake-up will be introduced in phases over the next few months, the airline says, starting with the launch into service of its first Airbus A350.

Updated: December 13, 2023, 6:33 AM