Emilia Wickstead to design next Air New Zealand uniform

The next range of Air New Zealand uniforms will be the work of globally renowned Kiwi designer Emilia Wickstead, the airline has announced.

Her dresses sell for thousands of pounds on her website and have been worn at high-profile public events by the likes of Dame Jacinda Ardern and Catherine, Princess of Wales.

She described designing the airline's new uniforms as "a true passion project". 

"I could not be prouder, or more excited, to have been selected as Air New Zealand's next uniform designer," Wickstead said in a statement.

"My approach to the uniform centres around a deep respect for New Zealand's cultural heritage. First and foremost, it is inspired by people. I'm a big believer that clothing can be transformative, uplifting and empowering, and my hope is that the new uniforms will instill a sense of pride and purpose in Air New Zealand's incredible, world-class team."

Wickstead was born in Auckland but is based in London and was awarded the Red Carpet Designer of the Year Award at the Elle Style Awards in 2014.

She was predicted to be the designer of Meghan Markle's wedding dress, but that honour instead went to Givenchy's Clare Waight Keller.

Dame Jacinda donned a Wickstead calf-length cream dress during a meeting with the British Prime Minister in 2022, which was almost identical to an ensemble worn by Princess Catherine during a royal tour of India and Bhutan in 2016.

Air New Zealand chief customer and sales officer Leanne Geraghty said the airline was "blown away" by Wickstead's concepts.

"We received expressions of interest from more than 40 New Zealand designers and heard pitches from the country's leading design talent, showcasing the depth and breadth of New Zealand fashion, making it an incredibly tough decision. Ultimately, Emilia stood out as the perfect partner," said Geraghty.

"Emilia presented outstanding initial designs that were creative, unique, will set Air New Zealand apart on the global stage. She also demonstrated her understanding of the importance in creating a uniform that is both functional and comfortable for our people.

"Her ability to create modern yet timeless pieces perfectly fits with what we were looking for in a design partner - someone who could create a uniform that our people can wear with pride now and into the future."

The airline said it will now collaborate closely with Wickstead for "design refinements, onboard trials and uniform wearer consultation" before the final designs are revealed late next year.