Artist who designed Virgin's flying lady outraged over new design

Artist who designed Virgin Atlantic’s ‘flying lady’ logo is ‘disappointed’ the airline has replaced her with ‘diverse men and women representing modern Britain’ including black and gay characters

  • Ken White was employed as Richard Branson’s artist between 1978 and 1990 
  • Mr White, 72, from Swindon, created the Virgin Atlantic ‘Scarlet Lady’ in 1984
  • He said his design was inspired by the artwork on the side of WWII aircraft 
  • Following the change, Mr White said the decision was ‘disappointing’  

An artist who designed the iconic Virgin Atlantic ‘flying lady’ logo is fuming – after the company replaced it with a black woman.

Disgruntled Ken White cannot understand why the pin-up image he created 35 years ago needs to be diversified to better reflect modern Britain.

The 72-year-old, from Swindon, Wiltshire, was given the job to come up with the design while he worked as Sir Richard Branson’s artist at Virgin between 1978 and 1990.

Ken White is disgruntled that the Virgin Atlantic flying lady emblem he created will not feature on new aircraft

Ken White, pictured, worked for Virgin as an artist between 1978 and 1990

He has criticised the airline’s decision to update the logo to reflect Britain’s diversity 

He created the ‘Scarlet Lady’ after being asked to produce something similar to the art painted on World War Two planes and that of Peruvian pin-up artist Albero Vargas.

Although the woman changed, the style and shape has endured – until the recent diversification.

The airline unveiled the first of its fleet of twelve Airbus A350-1000 aircraft – which features a black woman wearing a white blouse and red shorts – in August.

Mr White said: ‘It was a design which I thought worked and was changed to include the British flag, but then I read that they were changing it to a gay person and a black woman.

‘I don’t understand what was wrong with it in the first place; it was an icon and people knew the airline for it.

The new logos were unveiled on the airline’s new Airbus A350-1000 jets, pictured 

‘With the diversifying of the image you wonder where it will all end. It is disappointing.’

Virgin announced the move in April, with the twelve new aircraft bearing the changes to be rolled out by the end of 2021.

Nikki Humphrey, senior vice-president of people at Virgin, said: ‘The saying goes you can’t be what you can’t see and that has never been truer than the aviation industry’s glamorous image in the past.

‘By introducing our new Flying Icons I hope it encourages people from all backgrounds to feel at home flying with us, but also working with us.’

A spokesman for the brand added yesterday (Weds): ‘Virgin Atlantic is extremely proud to welcome its new Flying Icons, representing modern Britain through a diverse range of men and women.’

Mr White went on to work on murals and paint as a freelancer in the West Country after leaving Virgin and is currently holding an exhibition in his hometown.


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