A few of Bryant's fanciful designs
High fashion is itself a lucrative business, and, for a long time, couture houses sought their share of the tourism dollar by setting up boutiques in luxury hotels. But hotel guests aren't the only people the fashion houses have been outfitting; recently, top designers have focused their attention on hospitality staff—from Narcisco Rodriguez, who designed the uniforms at the Park Hyatt in NYC, to the Palazzo Versace in Dubai, whose staff sport ties emblazoned with Donatella's lion motifs and other Versace logos. Even celebrity designer Victoria Beckham has gotten into the game, designing staff apparel for the Fashion Hotel on Isla Moda (which is owned by her friend, Karl Lagerfeld).
Actually, some hotel employees might now be more glamorously dressed than their guests!
Take the new Watergate Hotel in Washington, DC, which underwent a $200 million renovation and reopened in June of 2016. Interior designers spared no expense highlighting the best aspects of the 1960s Mod era into its 336 guestrooms and suites.
That aesthetic translated into staff uniforms, as well.
Janie Bryant, the costumer behind TV’s Mad Men, was asked to create a line of retro-inspired hotel fashions. She envisioned thoughtfully designed pieces for restaurant staff, concierges, bellmen, valets, and reception attendants which provide a visual counterpoint to the hotel's lush interiors. (Plus, they can withstand some elbow grease.) These pieces do wonders at breathing new life into the venerable property and instilling a sense of refined whimsy.
After all, The Watergate Hotel is synonymous with Washington's biggest power players, so it's only fitting that its employees look their best!
Bryant's collection features a palette of camel, black, white and grey, with splashes of lipstick red. Front desk attendants are outfitted in A-line shaped dresses in the Watergate's signature check pattern, set with a puff sleeve and slight mandarin collar (pictured above). This look immediately sets the tone that hotel guests have arrived at a place that's out of the ordinary.
For more otherworldly delights, The Next Whisky Bar, located around the corner from the reception area—just follow the golden-tinged trail of house-made whiskey bottles—features a set of cocktail-shaking bartenders arrayed in four-button, windowpane-patterned suits (pictured in the image at top, second from the left).
Valets will surely be the talk of the Beltway sporting black topcoats, pants with gold camel piping and—even—stylish Hamburg hats! What taxi wouldn't stop at such a regal sight (pictured left)?
Each uniform boasts outstanding craftsmanship, with details such as silver buttons made from the Watergate logo, and are stitched in durable fabrics which allow employees the freedom to do their work without worrying about pulling fabric or getting dirty.
Fans of these fashion plates can carry the looks with them—literally. Each design is emblazoned on a complimentary Watergate Hotel Umbrella that can be used during a guest stay or can be brought home as a keepsake for $35.
We think the day of Haute Couture fashion shows devoted exclusively to hotel uniforms is coming soon. (And just imagine how outrageous the designs would be!) But until then, at least we can visit hotels like The Watergate and see a virtual catwalk of beautiful design in front of our eyes.