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Travellers on a handful of Qantas overnight flights this week undoubtedly did a double-take when they awoke to see the crew wearing different uniforms to when the flight began.
It was a case of out with the old – the familiar togs with an Aboriginal print which debuted in 2003 – and in with the new as crew did an inflight swap to chic threads designed by Martin Grant in sync with over 11,000 other Qantas employees around the world.
Melbourne-born but Paris-based designer Martin Grant predictably ditched the Aboriginal prints of the current kit in favour of clean European-inspired cuts based on a dusky French navy incorporating elements of 'Qantas red' with the odd playful fuchsia pink highlight.
"When I first started off I took the Qantas red and I ended up with red, white and blue which was a combination that I love but was far too obvious, and also regularly used" Grant told Australian Business Traveller earlier this year.
"The dark navy base is very chic, a little bit less serious than the black, and mixed beautifully with the red" Grant explains. "This colour scheme is also about adding something to the red so it's a little more contemporary."
"Pink was a way of staying in that palette of the reds, and mixing the pink and the darker reds so it keeps it in the family" Grant adds. "Fuschia is generally crew-friendly, even a little bit more frivolous."
(The baggage handlers miss out on that pink scarf, although they do get neatly tailored shorts and polo shirts.)
The uniform's stand-out element is a red triangle inspired by the tail of Qantas aircraft. "I decided to go with a very bold graphical element which would stand the test of time" Grant says.
"And because the Qantas logo has stood the test of time, I knew it would work for the uniform."
This vivid flash of red appears on the women's tops, the men's ties and the turned-down lapel of the unisex coat.
And then there's that hat – a trilby in knitted fabric made from recycled bottle tops.
“I didn't try and push it to a specifically Australian aesthetic” Grant says of his design. “I thought we already have Qantas being Australian – that is almost enough.”
As the cornerstone of his design, Grant says “I kept coming back to Qantas and the Qantas logo and the image that we all have of Qantas, which is the red triangle, the tail of the aircraft with the flying kangaroo."
“For me, if not the best airline logo, it is one of the strongest international logos. When you see it in the international ports it has a very strong impact."
This video shot by Qantas captures the 'fashion show' launch of the uniform earlier this year.
Photo gallery: Qantas uniforms – 65 years of high-flying fashion
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