They’re still more than a year away from hitting the tarmac. 

By Melanie Lieberman
Updated: January 24, 2017
© Chris Rank, Rank Studios

For the first time in more than a decade, Delta Air Lines employees—all of them—are getting a major uniform upgrade courtesy of American fashion designer Zac Posen.

The exclusive designs, which were revealed this afternoon in a fashion show at Atlanta’s Stave Room, are a triumph of technology, utility, and (of course) glamor.

“This is 18 months in the making,” Posen told Travel + Leisure this afternoon before his designs’ debut. “I’ve done many collaborations in my career, but this has been the most collaborative.”

Posen didn’t just reimagine the Atlanta-based carrier’s uniforms. He shadowed various jobs—even serving pretzels and peanuts—to find the perfect equilibrium between luxury and comfort.

As a result, his dynamic collection features subtle nods to aviation (a winged collar on a blouse, for example) and an innovative color palette (Passport Plum, Groundspeed Graphite, and Skyline Slate). Flight attendants can choose from a V-neck dress, an ottoman-skirt suit, and a playful swing jacket. Menswear options include a three-piece suit and a tie printed with Delta’s widget logo.

A team of 1,000 employees will wear-test the uniforms beginning in December, and will provide feedback for minor adjustments before the line goes into full production. Travelers can expect to see the new uniforms on every flight attendant, gate agent, and technician by early 2018.

Delta’s unveiling of Zac Posen’s lineup comes just weeks after American Airlines rolled out their line of slate, cobalt, and white uniforms.

©Chris Rank, Rank Studios

For more of T+L’s conversation with Zac Posen, read on.

On tackling the project:

I’ve always wanted to do uniforms for an airline, [but] I never expected it to necessarily be one of the most iconic American brands. I love to fly and I love to travel—one of the greatest gifts we have is that we’re able to explore the world and see different cultures and cities. There is something very glamorous about that.

On designing for difficult jobs:

I still put off doing the flight simulator; I don’t think I’m going to get it on this trip. [But] there are challenges to any job in life, no matter what it is, and what I [considered] is the balance between utility and being in service. When you’re in the air and onboard, you are [an] authority, a sense of safety, and you’re in the customer service role. And so that’s a lot of components.

On reviving the elegance of air travel:

We spoke at length about the Golden Age—when flying was incredibly glamorous—and how it has beautifully evolved. Delta, the Zac Posen Company, and myself are obviously very committed to celebrating the beauty of diversity. I look at other airlines that have very strict regulations about physique, look, and age, and that’s not how I (or Delta) see the world. I don’t believe in hiding in clothing. I believe in embracing body types and celebrating them. And if you dress to a certain level it makes your experience as a server [and] as an employee even more elevated.

On favorite looks:

I think the men look spectacular. These are suits that I would wear. They’re cool; they’re original—a bit masculine, but with design. You’re not just doing a standard suit—that’s a really challenging, equilibrium to hit. I’m a man who wears a suit and tie every single day, in my studio, on television, while draping, on the run, even going home to cook—though I do take my tie off for the cooking part.

On selecting a color palette:

And I’m really excited about our addition of a new color, Passport Plum, [that] would work within the existing brand, which was a big request from the employees and executives. I would basically fly and wear the different color combinations [Cruising Cardinal, Traveling Thistle] to see which colors worked together [in the cabin].