Aviation, Fashion

The Art of Flying Kebaya

My grandpa who is a retired pilot said “Kebaya always became the center attention to everyone..” and my Dad who is still flying as a pilot said “Everytime we landed in other countries, at least one eye is watching the woman in Kebaya..” and my 2 aunties who are also flight attendants said “We feel more comfortable flying in Kebaya, it brings us more identity..”

Whats the relation between fashion and aviation? Yes of course we can take a fine line in between. The flight attendant uniform for decades have become the symbol to all airlines in the world, bringing the identity, and of course the vision comfort for air passengers on board.

Actually the presence of Kebaya still being questioned whether still is a Kebaya costume would be eternally worn in Southeast Asia since it has been there years for decade while the usage is generally spread in Java, Bali, even Malaysia, Burma, Thailand.

Kebaya remains to be the physical symbol of sophistication which represents the identity of every woman whom wearing them. “Yes I’m an Indonesian lady”. Every Indonesian must be familiar with this chic traditional costume. If you are attending to a Javanese wedding reception we must see how traditional values are embraced through the presence of Kebaya that are worn by the bride or her family members.ย  Kebaya, especially the Javanese kebaya usually worn with the sarong or batik skirt to put more traditional look on it.

Since the growing modernity has invaded the world including in fashion industry, thus caused the existence of traditional costume started to disappear. The pride of Kebaya still remains when Airlines from the Southeast Asia region started to introduce Kebaya as female flight attendants (stewardess) uniforms. We can name several airlines that used or still currently using Kebaya as their identity such as the three big airlines in Southeast Asia; Malaysia Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Garuda Indonesia (suspended in 2004 and reactivate in October 2010).

“The pride of Kebaya represents the authentic of Asian courtesy that nobody will refuse its beauty and classy to every Asian woman who are wearing it,”

Many ofย  Southeast Asian Airlines are still configuring their longevity Kebaya which seem never dies. The Kebaya usually designed so chic and beautiful that creates the longevity of this uniform remains. Yet, the motive patterns on the materials may become the airlines trademark, we can take example, Singapore Airlines. The Airline has been known easily by its Kebaya uniform which designed by Pierre Balmain and this uniform is long lasting, world’s most recognize uniform and became the pride to every Singapore Girl who’s wearing it.

Source: Yahoonews.com

Source: Asia Finest Discussion Forum

Malaysia Airlines is also one of the airlines that using Kebaya as their stewardess uniform. The style of Malaysian Airlines kebaya is pretty much generally the same with Singapore Airlines, or Garuda Indonesia, straighter – cut blouse model, however, the differences only seen at the sleeves, and boustier cut, and of course the batik motives.

“Sebagai seseorang yang memiliki hubungan erat yang cukup lama dengan Garuda, saya tentu bangga dengan keberadaan airlines ini dan seragam kebaya-nya..”Kleopas Danang.

The last Garuda Indonesia uniform, our pride airline, has been varied since the airlines established back in the 1949. The first flight attendant uniform wore the semi-transparent straighter cut blouse made of brocade materials, kain panjang (selendang) and sanggul as their hair decoration for in-flight service coordinator (leading flight attendant). This uniform apparently used to become the center part of attention by many people in the world.

It is no doubt that many foreigners would be interested to see something different other than suits, skirts and hats which mostly used as western flight attendant style at the airport.

The old Garuda Indonesia semi-transparent brocade Kebaya

Source: Uniformfreak Garuda uniform 1989 – 1999

The journey of Kebaya in Garuda Indonesia walks along the Era. Garuda has used 3 different kinds of kebaya, and different motive patterns as well. The first blue Kebaya for senior flight attendants introduced in 1989 when Garuda had decided to change its bird logo, created by Landor. Instead of batik sarong, the long sleeve Kebaya in dark blue plain color, was worn along the blue grey motives sarong and kain panjang which was worn for nearly 12 years. And in 2000 the new designed and motives kebaya was introduced, was worn without kain panjang, entitled to simplicity. While in the previous years, the hiatus from the semi transparent brocade kebaya until the blue Kebaya also took so long.

From the launching of Garuda Indonesia new uniform 2010. I didn’t capture this picture, but i think one of Garuda Management staff did.

Nevertheless, the existence of the green and blue Kebaya were not lasting for long. Although the kebaya in Garuda back then only worn by senior flight attendants, while the junior uniforms were ordinarily wearing suit, scarf and skirt, though in 2004 during the survival period, Garuda eradicated its Kebaya uniform and using the western style instead to all its stewardesses.

Garuda Indonesia loyal customer must be upset when knowing the Kebaya uniform was no longer used and wishing them to return back on board. As a big nationalist, we must be proud to see Indonesian ladies walking with their kebaya, pulling their suitcase trolleys at many airports in Los Angeles, Amsterdam, Tokyo, or Sydney, that would instantly remind us to home and eagerly wishing to go back home.

The newest Garuda Indonesia Kebaya recently introduced. The different style of Kebaya Kartini for today’s uniform has created the new identity for Garuda Indonesia. The kebaya was designed by Obin, one of the well-known local designer whose highly appreciation to Kebaya as Indonesian traditional costume thinks Garuda is identical to Kebaya, and she thought that the most suitable uniform for Garuda is Kebaya. Obin designed this unique Kebaya in three colors, Dark-blue, Tosca and light-orange. The new uniform was introduced on the flight reinstatement to Dubai and Amsterdam on last June 1st 2010. However, the total usage will be officially starting in November 2010.

Yes, I attended the uniform launching. ๐Ÿ™‚

As a Kebaya Kartini, this uniform is featuring the central silver brooch which fastens the parts where the flaps of the blouse meet. If the original Kebaya Kartini (Kerongsang) is usually designed with three or more buttons down, but not with this Kebaya. The zipper is likely used instead as of convenient matters. The chosen materials are made of polyster and cotton which claimed as a fire-resistant materials, and the sarong batik is adapting from the Parang Gondosuli, Javanese traditional motives, which represents the elegance and life enlightenment philosophy.

I think it’s time for me to ask everyone, which one among the three Airlines kebaya do you like? Please join by vote Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, or Garuda Indonesia? ๐Ÿ™‚ I personally prefer to the new Garuda Indonesia kebaya.ย  Not as in subjective reason, but I think since kebaya kartini is actually the only kebaya I like and the color choice are just fabulous.


Have a great weekend Guys ๐Ÿ™‚



6 thoughts on “The Art of Flying Kebaya

    • Kleopas Danang says:

      Hi mas andi, thanks for the correction ๐Ÿ™‚ yea I think my microsoft word is automatically recognized as Pierre Cardin. hahaha I remembered though coz Pierre Balmain is one of Michael Jackson’s favorite designer hehe Terima Kasih banyak ya! ๐Ÿ™‚

  1. Urba says:

    Singapore Airlines’ kebaya is very pretty and eye-catching, but as a traditionalist I prefer the Garuda uniform…
    … the plain kebaya and finely-patterned batik is a bit more classic, and evocative of the old East Indies.

  2. rizki ramadhan says:

    seorang wanita akan terlihat lebih cantik dan elegnt jika memakai kebaya ,entah mengapa kebaya menjadi sebuah fashion yang memiliki misteri di mna setiap pemakayannya terlihat sangat cantik ๐Ÿ™‚

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