#1024 EXCLUSIVE! Trelise Cooper’s new Air NZ uniforms – all the female looks

I feel for Trelise Cooper. Redesigning the Air New Zealand uniforms was always going to be a dog of a job. Just look at what she was up against. First of all, a huge staff body with hugely varying body types. Second, the New Zealand public – hardly the easiest group upon which to unveil anything new. Third, replacing Zambesi – loyalists were always going to disapprove of whatever she did. At first glance, I disliked what she’d designed. But the more I look at it, the more it’s growing on me.

If you take a close look at the women’s dress, you’ll find that the patterns are variations on the Air New Zealand Koru, but muddled up and printed at random across the cloth. When I first looked at it I was convinced it was some kind of unrelated vine or floral print – some of the commenters below even suggested it was reminiscent of wallpaper. Now that I recognise its relevancy, I feel a lot better about the whole thing. As for the colours, well, the staff have already had their say in the Dominion Post this morning: “The flight attendants look like drag queens off the Air New Zealand ‘pink’ flight.” But colours are probably the toughest part of the job. I was never a fan of the teal colours Zambesi chose either.

I approve of the women’s coats and the suit with the longer jacket, but I’m not a fan of any of the cropped jackets or the excess buttons. It seems a little finnicky over function to me. I’d probably like to see narrower trousers with the suits, but I guess if you’re trying to dress thousands of different-sized women you have to make exceptions. All in all I’m not desperately unhappy with what Trelise Cooper designed, but it perhaps lacks the sophistication and professionalism that the Zambesi uniforms exuded.


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  1. says

    I admire Air NZ for having some variety in the individual style items, BUT the print itself (whether green or pink) is awful. Im assuming its an attempt at recreating a Maori print, but it looks like a Balinese screen printer has given it a go instead (or possibly the trimmings guy from Hong Kong’s brother).

    The white shirt is impractical (has Trelise ever tried pouring coffee all day wearing white – perhaps she needs to look at the staff of her nearest Ponsonby cafe for the reality), and the jacket with four buttons is too fussy. The other jacket and trousers is passable but very matronly. The green skirt and cardigan combo looks like a wannabe Sloane Ranger uniform.

    Seriously this was the best option for Air NZ to pick? If so, then the other contenders must be awful and NZ Fashion Week should be cancelled immediately. Fortunately Im sure there were better options, Air NZ just didnt choose them.

    • Tony says

      Love the hat and Nelson’s looking (trench)coat! Looks antient – good on board a pirate ship!!! LOVE IT, but only that and the last pic. The best dressed are Albanians and Egiptians. The cutest and cheapest, but most comfortably dressed up are the Vietnamiese stuardeses, but that is only my oppinion!

  2. Angiebabynz says

    And now lets see how these uniforms look after a 22 hour flight. That white shirt is ridiculous, and the print looks like flocked wallpaper.

  3. says

    I really hope these dont go ahead – They are rather impractical and that print is fecking hideous! I cant believe a designer like Trelise Cooper would even come up with something like this? WTF.

  4. oldgirl says

    what is that print it is so bad, I do like the overcoat but the rest is just wrong, I agree with kiwigirluk if this was the best what did the rest look like. Maybe someone can show us the other designers ideas I would love to see what did not make the cut. I told you it would look like clothes for older women and a lot of the staff these days are more my age than younger so maybe it will work. I bet the skirt has a elestic waist for the middle age waist. I wonder how much money is being spent on this lot of uniforms

  5. says

    agreed. the print looks very much inspired by Florence Broadhurst’s wallpaper designs… and that is never a bad thing in fashion design generally, everyone loves Broadhurst… but it’s possibly not the best fit for an Air NZ identity….

  6. says

    Good god those are heinous. Bring back the uniform pre-Zambesi please, at least the printed skirts looked sort of Kiwiana. The top uniform picture looks ok if you’re going to Siberia but the black and pink dress?! Who in their right minds would want to stride up and down the aisle of the plane in that? I really really hope that some reconsideration goes into these uniforms.

  7. oldgirl says

    maybe if they change the print and get a good pant block, trelise is not good at pants and they do need one longer jacket without seams around the hips and what is the deal with the fake waistcoat/jacket. Well it has got us all thinking again about our fav subject fashion. Lets wait and see what she has come up with for the men, I hate to,think. I have 3 phone calls on this uniform already so making a boring Sat at the shop more interesting

  8. Anonymous says

    Terrible. I don’t mind the print, and the green version of it is an OK look (ie not an offensive outfit) but the rest is terrible. The pink is a ridiculous colour, the pant suit is hideously dated, I could go on. Saw one of the men’s looks in the Dominion Post today and there is the most ridiculous bright blue tie. The colour palette in general lacks any cohesion or feel of efficiency – as a nervous flyer I like my flight staff to look professional.

    Isaac are you just waiting to garner others opinions before you offer your own? Seems a major cop out to post the pics and not offer any editorial opinion, no matter how brief

  9. Kate says

    I like the pinstripe suit, scarf and overcoat. The rest is horrific. That dress would make a size 6 look a size 14. A simple wrap dress would look much better!

  10. Anonymous says

    As these pictures came thru the office staff were physically jumping back from their screens and asking if it was a joke. I can’t write the language from the cabin crew.

  11. Anonymous says

    Have air New Zeaand truly lost their minds? The poor staff. As an ex-employee my heart goes out to the staff that have to wear that! Why oh why did they not go back to a proper uniform designer like Barbara lee? Air nz will be a laughing stock!!

  12. oldgirl says

    that is so funny that website, I have never seen so many badly designed garments in my life, and what is up with them all wearing awful scarfs.. There seemed to be a theme a awful jackets, bad in flight dresses and those B….y scarfs.. So what we have seen from Miss Cooper is not looking to bad not great but going with the theme of badly designed uniforms. Thank you for giving me a laugh on a boring day

  13. Anonymous says

    I dont mind the coat and hate in the first picture, but the rest! urgh!

    NZ will be a laughing stock if Air NZ goes ahead with this, back to the drawing board please!!

  14. Anonymous says

    So wrong! They look impractical, and would be a shame to have on display on all air nz flights; our airline is consistently one of the best which is a great feat for a nation of our size/location but these uniforms are horrid – trelise threw up tacky prints all over them. mistake to hire a designer who caters to middle aged mothers who strut up ponsonby road.

  15. says

    Oh god. Aside from the first picture, I’m hating on everything else. As echoed above, the print is hideous, the suit is extremely unflattering for the figure, the white shirt makes the model look like a marshmellow, and the cardigan is more befitting on the much older population.

    Argh! I knew Trelise was a bad idea. Kate Sylvester and Alexandra Owen would have been soo much better.


  16. Anonymous says

    IM DISTRESSED, what a disaster. dislike strongly. the print is awful…times a million. I dont think il ever be able to fly on air new zealand…from fear of vomiting.GREEN AND PINK?>ahhhhhhh I agree that the first picture is the only thing that is even worth considering.

  17. Anonymous says

    Now that I recognise its relevancy, I feel a lot better about the whole thing.

    And that means this uniform has already failed.

    A uniform is a brand image that requires immediate recognition to create an impact – not delayed recognition or interpretation.

    The brand impact must be immediate and overwhelmingly positive.

  18. says

    Instead of attacking the design, I think more attention should be directed at AirNZ.

    If you are asking Trelise Cooper to come to the design party, you know it’s going to be anything but simple, lacklustre or mono-chromatic. Trelise is not well known for dressing down and perhaps AirNZ decided that it was time to dress up by adding a bit of colour and Cooper personality to their brand?

    AirNZ obviously knew what they were signing up for when choosing Coopers collection, so perhaps they are moving in a different direction.

    I personally like: the pinstripe suit, it is very smart and the hooded Agent99 trench.

    Agree with Andy, the print is very Broadhurst (love Broadhurst) and the pink hue reminds me of summer and the tiki print dresses of the 50s. I would not go so far as to say that it’s horrid though. It’s not your most conventional print for an airline of this decade, but is it wearable? yes.

    The crop jacket will be a bit constrictive at the sleeve head, especially for those with larger arms so it’s not my fave. And I agree that a few tweaks could be made for practicality with some pieces. But overall with a few adjustments I can definitely warm to the collection in it’s entirety.

    Change is not easy and nearly always met with resistance, but in the end it’s inevitable. Like it or love it, AirNZ has had the final word and the Trelise Cooper uniform is here to stay.

  19. Anonymous says

    Oh dear. Somewhere along the line Air Nz have bought into the myth that Cooper is actually a “designer” when really, all she actually does is rehash overseas designer looks for a local audience. Even gossip columnist Rachel Glucina cottoned onto that one…a little careful analysis of the looks and anyone can figure that out.
    So OK, style is in the eye of the beholder and maybe the Air NZ execs decided they like that aging milkmaid look that Cooper does so well. But they also seem to have the strange idea – who knows why – that Cooper (or her minions) can come up with something practical…um, something that uniforms generally tend to be.
    I agree that Barbara Lee does a great uniform look and she would probably have thrown in some excellent retro 60s references. But I think I agree with another comment, Kate Sylvester and staff or Alexandra Owen would have come up with the best, modern take on the female uniform. Sylvester would have had a good feel for dressing all shapes and sizes and probably for budget too. Owen would have come up with a great suiting solution but, knowing her cutting and design, it probably would also have been too expensive. And from experience I know that Air NZ are never the easiest customers to work for.
    It was always going to be a big ask but why must we have the national airline’s uniform designed by a label that is basically a glorified rag trader?
    Oh, and while the women’s uniforms are tolerable (barely but if this is what its got to be we should be able to cope) the men’s uniforms are horrifyingly intolerable. Where is the slick suit? Totally agree with your comments about the buttons and the lapels, Isaac. And the back of that waistcoat! Didn’t realise that Air NZ were quite so hip to the somewhat ironic, mid-90s revival. Then again, maybe they’re not.

  20. says

    I’m going to take a stab in the dark and guess that most of these comments are Air NZ staff? If so it illustrates what any designer is up against trying to please Air NZ staff. These negative opinions are somewhat reminicent of the somewhat pissy customer service I and others have recieved over the years.
    Now (non PC alert) Air NZ isn’t Singapore Airlines so it’s got to squeeze a bunch of overweight fusty old people into uniforms, see the problem here? If they had recruitment practices like Singapore Airlines then it’d be easier to come up with a sexy design.
    I’ve seen a lot of comments about how Cooper does old ladies cloths… the point? It seems the right choice of designer then because Air NZ does have an awful lot of, ahem, ‘older’ staff who couldn’t be described as svelte!
    If Air NZ wants a new sexy look they could start by getting rid of all their staff, borrowing Singapore Airlines recruitment guide and then you could have some nice uniforms.
    Guess we missed that opportunity when the Government decided not to allow Air NZ to be bought by Singapore Airlines.

  21. says

    Well, I got so frazzled looking at the picture, I actually e-mailed Air NZ ….
    I had to suggest they look historic uniforms for looks that last (say the 1992-2006 uniform) and consider how they could be leveraged. Personally I find the Zambesi ones appealing, and if you look at the pattern piecing (I kept checking them out every time I flew :-)) there is a lot of thought given to freedom of movement. The constraint I think was the use of natural fabrics, which is desirable, but maybe not practical. Trelise’s designs don’t look all that movement friendly, and personally if I had to wear the print, I’d be thinking about my options!
    The big point to me is is not sustainable to keep re-issuing these uniforms for the shareholders, staff, and the brand. Air NZ need to commit to a sustainable uniform policy, and re-consider these uniforms. I cannot imagine this lot will last any longer than the last lot, and certainly will end up being replaced even faster if these images are anything to go by.

    Surely to costs involved must be considered. Singapore Airlines is a great example of a workable, highly recognisable visual uniform brand. Why don’t Air NZ aim for this? Sustainable, cheaper, and builds the brand recognition. Just a thought! You don’t need to smack people in the eyeballs to be recognisable, just be authentic, consistent, and continuous.

  22. says

    I’m going to take a stab in the dark and guess that most of these comments are Air NZ staff? If so it illustrates what any designer is up against trying to please Air NZ staff. These negative opinions are somewhat reminicent of the somewhat pissy customer service I and others have recieved over the years.
    Now (non PC alert) Air NZ isn’t Singapore Airlines so it’s got to squeeze a bunch of overweight fusty old people into uniforms, see the problem here? If they had recruitment practices like Singapore Airlines then it’d be easier to come up with a sexy design.
    I’ve seen a lot of comments about how Cooper does old ladies cloths… the point? It seems the right choice of designer then because Air NZ does have an awful lot of, ahem, ‘older’ staff who couldn’t be described as svelte!
    If Air NZ wants a new sexy look they could start by getting rid of all their staff, borrowing Singapore Airlines recruitment guide and then you could have some nice uniforms.
    Guess we missed that opportunity when the Government decided not to allow Air NZ to be bought by Singapore Airlines.
    This latest attempt to design something that on first impressions looks a lot better that the current god awful shapeless lump (uniform I mean). The day Air NZ fields a bunch of staff that look like models is the day you’ll all get a sexy uniform.

  23. virginia wright says

    Oh the shame, the embarrassment!

    If you want to look BIG, blousey, frumpy, like something you dragged out of Nana’s old fabric scrap bag, get Trelise Cooper to run you up something. Trelise is guaranteed to make you look like the fabric scrap rag bag just got loose and is on the town.

    Air Hostess’ are SUPPOSED to look glamorous and professional, NOT Barbie Arabesque style!

  24. Tony G ( NZ Gold Elite FF) says

    `Consumeist` pretty much sums up my thoughts exactly. Most of the posts here appear to be from current and ex-AirNZ staff with their various axes to grind. And who is this person that keeps suggesting Barbara Lee? Are you on bad prescription drugs or something? Bowler hat and double breasted blazers, with a ridiculously short skirt .A look that accentuated saggy tits and your rugby thighs, girls(Only old Aerolineas Argentinas broilers can get away with very short skirts without looking like retired hookers).. I am still scarred after all these years from the memory of one Air NZ lass waddling through LAX looking like`Happy Feet`.

  25. Sue Customer says

    I am not Air New Zealand staff!Having recently flown with Air New Zealand to USA and Europe. I Spent a reasonable amount of time sitting in terminals, waiting for my flights. There are always many flight crews walking to and from their assignments so you are able to observe the vaious uniforms. It wasn’t that important at the time but I found myself in admiration of the Air New Zealand cabin crews appearance. Compared to some of the crews, they looked smart, modern and the outfits flattered the various body shapes and ages. These long waits have you passing the time in many different ways.
    In my opinion, that may not matter much but I do always fly Air New Zealand overseas because the service is always of a good standard, the proposed uniform change is just awful! The short jackets are a very particular body shapes friend, the “afternoon tea dress” in curtain material will only age anyone wearing the abomination and the coat and hat look like something from the USSR, no offence. Trelise Cooper designs are never for “smart” but have an established place in the fashion world however if I was her I would be racing to withdraw these designs as internationally she will be a laughing stock. She should stick to what she knows and not make a laughing stock of Air New Zealand staff who have to suffer her designs all over the world. The people who have chosen her work should think of them not the prestige of being “out there”.

    A very happy ANZ customer.

  26. says

    Designing uniforms in themselves is a tricky task.

    Cabin crew (and the human population) in general have different body types, shapes, and personal preferences.

    The key to designing fashion that is to be worn to the masses is to adhere to specific rules.

    She broke several rules with the women’s clothing, as well as the men’s.

    The designs are too structured and wouldn’t flow/accommodate different body types.

    Menswear in particular use too many structured pieces and may fail to accommodate for those long haul flights where comfort is essential.

    Women’s dresses need to be a classic A frame dress, with a mid-dip V neck. Wrap dresses are the most forgiving fashion item, and could include a block of black to ground it from the distracting patterns.

    Pants for both men and women will probably need to have two styles (to accomodate all sizes and shapes). Straight leg works for most, as well as a relaxed fit for shorter legs.

    Understated patterns AND colours would work best, to accomodate different skinetone values (complementary and contrasting anyone?)

    The pattern could stand with being made smaller and more geometric, colours more muted.

    Right now these colours reflect FADS of Fuschia/magenta and lime green that are hitting the stores – but this trend will soon fade as summer is over. These colours don’t work for all skintones and may need refining.

    Perhaps sit down with a Pantone book and find muted variant colours and stay away from pink in general, as AirNZ hues are on the cool side.

    I believe Zambesi made a safe choice, going with the moss green which was a variant of the New Zealand livery colours.

    Black is fine – if it is repeated through the entire line, and is a staple simply because it’s more forgiving and works for everyone.

    Maybe Trelise will see the initial reaction and have a re-design session.

  27. Anonymous says

    Seems like a “Rational Wardrobe” for a cabin crew. Sure they look different, but after a couple of years who will really care?


  28. Anonymous says

    Uniforms aside for a moment –

    Consumeist – I’m sure looks like a supermodel, with a perfect bodyshape and the most perfect amazing looks!

    Sounds like a typical old fashioned ignorant kiwi chauvenist pig to me.

  29. Anonymous says

    I can apprecite that Air NZ and Trelise are trying really hard to infuse a bit more ‘personality’into the brand. Afterall, the airline business is a bit like banking and fast food – no room for creativity. Consistency is everthing and Singapore Airlines is the McDonalds of the airline business. Hardly inspiring but you know exactly what you’ll get; that one SQ girl will be a perfect clone of the other. Moving on, I cannot understand how Air NZ and Trelise arrived at this concept in partic. the flock wallpaper look which could be really great except the lime green and barbie pink are just flocking awful!) And for the record I am a big fan of Air NZ’s international service. I actually don’t mind the current uniform. Its restful on the eye but could be ‘warmed up’ a little. I think the airline/ Trelise need to review past uniform designs are aim to recapture ‘timeless elegance’. And then just stick with it through the decades with minor adjustments to keep the design fresh. I can’t see how rehashing a uniform every couple of years can be good for shareholder value. Rob/ Trelise: Can you just stay away from ‘contemporary’. Do it once, and do it right!

  30. Anonymous says

    This seems an excuse to personally attack Trelise Cooper, which is truly unfair, she is a world reknowned designer for a reason.

    I think New Zealand need to go into this with an open mind, I agree many of the garments are not body friendly, but the overall idea is fresh, fun and still sophisticated. Keeping in mind these are only the first designs, I think the end result will be a big step forward for AirNZ, showing the world we are trendsetters, not followers. And I think the menswear is funky! A fantastic modern twist on the old traditional uniforms!

    I wish Trelise and AirNZ luck in pleasing the public, I can’t wait to see the final results!

  31. says

    Air NZ should have a comp for members of the public to design a new uniform and everyone can vote online for a top 10. Air NZ can choose out of the top 10. The winner can get return flights and hotel to somewhere exotic – it wont cost them anything!

  32. says

    The white blouse as well as the trousers should be more tailored they are not stylee enough,Cooper need to have a look at the Air France Uniform and learn from them. what a “perfect uniform is” so simple yet so sophisticated,because of the cut,the fabrics etc….After all it’s not hard at all.

  33. says

    I am happy I didnt get inspired by movies such as Catch me if you Can and decide to be an air hostess. The original glamour of travel is most definitely lost here! My migraines would surely be aggravated looking at my fellow workers shirts while the unexplained rise in air sickness would leave me a very unhappy flyer.
    Wrong on so many levels hopefully Jet Star picks up their service just in time so I can avoid the sad eyes of Air New Zealand Staff. May they have overcoats waiting in their lockers so they can go home without embarrassment.

  34. Anonymous says

    i think these uniforms are absolutlely hideous, they will date quickly and the pattern on the dresses doesn’t seem to relate to NZ at all. Bring back Zambesi or someone with just as high a standard of taste.

  35. Sue says

    Saw the uniform for real today and they all look really stunning, especially the pink dress worn with a short jacket and that jaunty little hat!!! They looked very chic and french .10 out of 10

  36. nz ex pat says

    big thick black koru’s with lime green and hot pink?? really…what were you thinking?!

    tacky, dated, disgusting.

    I have nothing to do with the company, im annoyed because this gives the whole of NZ a bad reputation.

    come on Air Nz, good on you for being different in everything you do….but this is a little far don’t you think?

  37. Merylbrew says

    The more I look the more I like.  I just wish the skirts and dress were cut in a more flattering shape i.e: A-line or figure flattering bias cut skirts.  I was a airhostess in the sixties and our uniforms still win hands down.

  38. Alison Cant says

    Hi i think the new uniform looks good if you have a slim figure but if you are a bit on the large size i don’t think it would look as good have you asked GOK.
    I am sure he would agree, i preferred the old uniform far more flattering.

  39. Tori Colebourne says

    Air New Zealands uniforms are DISCUSTING. No shape, no style, the poor men having to wear this. So tacky makes our airline look cheap and nasty!!

  40. Sumahero says

    I work for the modern day pan am aka emirates– and I have serious uniform envy! Those girls look so tailored and amazing and fresh- it suits so many body types and with trelise at the helm how can you go wrong?! I would give my right arm for one of those gorgeous hats the girls wear also.. Bravo AIR NZ!

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