Kebaya Nyonya

The Origin of Kebaya Nyonya

Where does “Nyonya” comes from?

Originated in Malacca, the term Nyonya was referring to the women of Chinese and Baba-Nyonya descendants back in the late 15th to 16th during the period of when British residency in Tanah Melayu. It is an honorific word by the Javanese which comes from the Italian word “nona”. This is due to the fact that during that period, the Javanese had a tendency of addressing foreign women as Nyonya and hence, the term finally sticks for the Straits-Chinese women too.

Where does “Nyonya Kebaya” comes from?

Also known as Baju Nyonya Kebaya – this dress is the perfect representation of cultural assimilation of Malay and Chinese. It is a form of art in fashion that turns it into an icon amongst the Kebaya collections. The Nyonya is a translucent blouse that is usually made from a sheer, lightweight fabric of plain weave that comes in various colours and shades – creating the multi-layered tone to the overall dress that is iconic to Peranakan communities. Baju Kebaya Nyonya was first made by the people of Peranakan from Malacca. They usually wear it with a sarong matched with a pair of beaded shoes called kasut manek. The materials used to make this legendary Muslimah dress were from the semi-transparent polyester, nylon, silk or thin cotton embellished with brocade or floral pattern embroidery. Aside matching it with a sarong, sometimes Kebaya is worn with batik or songket.

The Growth of Baju Kebaya Nyonya in Malaysia and The World

As time progresses into the modern age, at some point, this Nyonya dress was losing its shine as the pride and joy of Malacca heritage, but it would not take long for a massive comeback that created 360 degrees turn in Malaysia’s fashion industry. Its popularity once again sky rocket with high demands from not just the Malays, but also people from different cultural origins as well. It's no longer restricted on its traditional scripture, but now a crossover between traditional and modern features. Sometimes, it is styled with Western-style dresses, skirts and even jeans. Talk about the grand revolution of a cultural and historical heritage.

This Muslimah clothing is creating its mark above the expectations the makers have when it was first created as the official cultural dress for the Peranakan community. There are well over 100 shops selling top-quality Muslimah wear all across Malaysia such as Semua House in Masjid India Road and a well-known boutique called the First Lady at Ampang Park. There are also numerous Kebaya Nyonya online shop where you can get almost various kinds of cutting in reasonable prices. One site was made specifically for this type of dress; Little Nyonya Batik – deemed to be the one and only Peranakan-style designs you can trust. Based in Singapore, it has well over hundreds of Kebaya collections, specifically the Peranakan Kebaya that is dominating the trend today.

The one non-arguable reason why Nyonya dress endless attraction towards not just the Malay communities, but pretty much all communities in general – even foreigners, is because of its historical heritage. Malacca is well-known for its historical scripture within every wall you can find, therefore, Nyonya dress is one of the most precious historical heritage they possessed. The traditional art that resides in the dress shows the very unique quality or value that puts this dress in the top list of what to buy when you are in Malaysia. Without a doubt, Nyonya dress is very beautiful and the way it is delicately made to flaunt your body curves added the impression of beauty and art in one form. Those two qualities are what women look for in a dress and this legendary piece of clothing has it into a complete package.

Style With Dignity!

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