Discover the style of the Perakanan – a hybrid of interactions between people from Asia and Europe
When dressing, women chose strategically from a range of apparel options: baju panjang, lace kebaya favoured by European and Eurasian women, traditional Chinese costume, or Western-style clothing. While some women continued to adhere to one particular style, others dressed in different styles depending on the circumstance and the occasion.
A wide range of factors influenced fashion, and new elements were incorporated into the baju and kebaya, resulting in developments such as the baju peki with a mandarin collar – resembling the Chinese garment known as duanshan. In addition, white lace kebaya, a tradition inherited from European and Eurasian women, came to be decorated with dragons or kirin (a Chinese mythical animal) in embroidery or appliqué. Elegant duanshan in European organdie, with hand-embroidered decorations, were referred to in the southern Chinese Hokkien dialect as "lace fabric duanshan". Peranakan women also wore stylish Chinese qipao and cheongsam, which at the time were popular as an international fashion trend in Japan as well.
The final innovation in the technologically-driven evolution of the sarong kebaya was the introduction of machine embroidery. Previously, hand-sewn cutwork was carried out to create the patterns of hand-made lace attached to kebaya, but after World War II, a rise in the price of lace led to the adoption of machine embroidery that mimicked lace.
Modernity is expressed at different levels by the short bob and clutch, and also by the latest sewing-machine-embroidered kebayas, that pinned lower at the collar – which would also suggest a Western-style camisole was worn. The jewelled kerosangs have become so light that they almost cannot be seen.
We would like to extend our sincere appreciation to the following individuals for their generous cooperation and support towards the opening of the exhibition:
Mr and Mrs Lee Kip Lee
Agnes Tan Kim Lwi
Agnes Tan Kim Lwi (Singapore)
Helu-Trans (S) Pte Ltd
Singapore Tourism Board
Supported by: Wonder Asia Pte Ltd
Official Airline: Singapore Airlines
Website: John Teo