The Kebaya: From Delicate Lace to Intricate Jewellery
Take a walk around Joo Chiat with an open heart and you’ll find beauty in every corner.
The area is known to be peppered with the Peranakan culture; from the scents and flavours of widely beloved Peranakan cuisine, to the culture’s vibrant traditional garments.
Our Founder, Yilin, grew up in Joo Chiat, and was constantly exposed to the rich culture this heritage precinct so steadfastly preserves. The Peranakan aesthetic has always held a special place in her heart, but her love for the Nyonya Kebaya truly blossomed when she discovered the late Datin Seri Endon Mahmood’s tribute to the iconic Southeast Asian dress - a book entitled
The Nyonya Kebaya: A Century of Straits Chinese Costume.
Datin Seri Endon Mahmood was the beloved former First Lady of Malaysia, married to Former Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. Her affection for the Nyonya Kebaya was deeply apparent in her writing; and for the Choo Yilin team, her passion was truly inspiring.
AN INSPIRATION TO
THE CHOO YILIN
So much of the brand’s inaugural Kebaya Collection came to be not only because of that inspiration, it was also in the invaluable information she shared; the intricacy of each piece, the jewelled tones featured, and the complete, exquisite ensembles of what Nyonyas had worn in the past. We learned that because they were all handmade back then, no two kebayas were ever the same.
We spent afternoons enraptured by the book, and perhaps our greatest takeaway is the fact that our heritage in Asia is so deeply intertwined with each other’s, and in many ways, it shows. The Kebaya has been interpreted so disntinctly by so many different communities around the region - by Indonesian, Malaysian and Singaporean artisans and high fashion designers alike.
This is our homage to this book of wonders that allowed us to dream that we could contribute to the Kebaya story in our own way - through gemstones, jade, and gold – and honour one of the richest heritage icons in Southeast Asian culture.