Fashion icon in Malay society during 60s’

Exposure of music and film contribute to the fashion of 50’s and 60’s. In this post, I will mentioned a significant fashion icon who successfully create their own sense of fashion taste and make an remarkable and recognizable image with her style through her filming and singing career.

Peplum(Greek)-peplos which its designed fit the torso.In modern fashion, it gain its attention in the mid 19th century and it was introduced by Christian Dior with his New Look silhouette during 1947. The fashion related to the thin waist, tulip flower design with mermaid elements .(Wong, 2015)

During 1960s, filming become one of the hottest activity. Movies of studio Merdeka, Keris Films and Malay Film production lead by Sir Run Run Shaw involved several beautiful screen sirens and one of them were Saloma.(Carlito and profile, 2012)

Puan Sri Datin Amar Salmah Ismail, who is better known as Saloma (1932–83), was a Singaporean-Malaysian singer who became famous in late 50’s until the early 80’s.  She is one the the most memorable women in Malaya.

She can be regarded as the inventor or originator of the Malay women fashion trend. Saloma seems dare in trying or introducing something new.Saloma appeared in the style of dress ‘foreign’ to the community at the time. She created the popular trend such as trend of wearing which is tight, body shaping, showing chest and shoulders.Peplum fashion became the must in Malay women society that time.(, 2015)Madu Tiga is one of the good examples that portraying her peplum style. Her peplum styles reverberates till today and became one of the inspiration of the fashion designers today.

Other than Peplum fashion, she also introduced traditional classic kebaya to all malay women and her style still be maintained till today and being applied by Malaysia as well as Singapore airlines.


image above shows the fashionable wearing of Saloma during 60s. We can see the top half consist of figure hugging top and the mid length “bell ” sleeves and slight peplum fllare and the bottom would be a mermaid type cut of dress.

Video above shows Saloma wore a beautiful kebaya in film”Masam Masam Manis”. Her femininity is well expressed with the kebaya.


image above shows 2012 trend of fashionable clothes for Raya. This shown that her fashion style lasts till now and being innovate into the better one. Proven fashion today actually is a innovation of 50s and 60s.

Annotated Bibliography

Carlito, D. and profile, V. (2012). POP YEH YEH RESEARCH TRIP: Saloma. [online] Available at: [Accessed 27 Jun. 2015]., (2015). Jenis-jenis Kebaya di Malaysia. [online] Available at: [Accessed 27 Jun. 2015].

Samat, S. (2014). Sam Syadeed Samat: Saloma: A Shadow of the Malayan Fashion Muse (Sad Stories behind the Style). [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Jun. 2015]., (2014). Fabulous fifties – Nation | The Star Online. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Jun. 2015].

Wong, G. (2015). Know Your Trend: The Peplum | tongue in chic. [online] Available at: [Accessed 27 Jun. 2015].

Yassin, K. (2015). IN EVERY SHAPE: What would Saloma wear? – Nation – New Straits Times. [online] Available at: [Accessed 27 Jun. 2015].

YouTube, (2015). SAAT YANG BAHAGIA (KARAOKE) P.Ramlee & Saloma versi filem “Masam Masam Manis” (1965). [online] Available at: [Accessed 27 Jun. 2015].

Malay women magazine after independence part 2

In the previous post, I have mentioned that Malay women had become a shame in society.By following the fashion trend of America blindly, they were thrown with judgement and criticism on their improper attire that portray sexuality in a negative way.

from pdf, photo about malay beauty comp

image above shows the malay women were exposing their body by wearing bikini in public through the beauty contest in Singapore and Malaya  that highly advertise by Asmara. As you may seen from the illustration, there were three malay men who were wearing traditional songkok shown their shock expression when seeing such scene and through the expression, I personally feel that they were disgust with it.(, 2015)

True, we cannot deny that modernity is very important, but we must be aware on the balance of implying western culture to prevent of being consciously trapped by the larger propaganda such as  American Way. During that period, women seem to go too wild with the mindset of sexy is pretty. However, modesty seemed a universal quality that malay women had that time. Such quality was seen by both local and western men. Modesty was seen as a universal quality – a quality that Malay men prized in Malay women. Articles written by Western men were used to affirm and assure Malay women that their modesty was the quality that men found most irresistible and pleasing. While chasing for western high fashion, such quality is slowly disappear among the malay women. (, 2015)

Furthermore, representation of women’s dress reflected not just femininity and sexuality but it became the symbols of nation.Act of beautifying themselves and chasing for fashion become Malay women’s  daily routine at that time just like how Asmara beheld the view that “fashion is the most indicative marker of everyday living “  In addition, fashion becomes a language, which allowing malay women communicate with each other silently. It also provide a platform for social discussion to be carried out..(, 2015)

awareness of loving own culture is being raised, the society began realised the importance of maintaining their own beauty. Kebaya is widely used and being accepted for all Malay women. Kebaya begins with the song Nona Singapura which describing women were swaying hips portraying their sexiness through kebaya. (, 2015)This became a hot mouthful topic at that time as there were arguments about the meaning of the song in both positive and negative way. I personally feel that kebaya shows femininity and sexuality well and in a polite way. It is a dress that allow the wearer to make alterations on their own whether they maintain the traditional looking or remix some of the western elements to look modern but without losing ethnic distinctiveness.

Being the nation’s personification, the Malay woman wearing the symbol of the kebaya projected this unitary starting point of the political thought of the Malayan. Fashion and garment industry become one of the new economies of Malaya., (2015). [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Jun. 2015].

Malay women magazine after independence part 1

During 50s, the rise of education in Malay, positive growth of rubber prizes and shift from social and religious orientation Malay publication to commercially orientation entertaining magazines of pre war period caused the increase number of Malay magazines. These magazines was filled with incongruity, portraying sexy women on their covers, despite the message of religion in the text. Magazines that were the best representative of the shift culture would be Asmara, Fashion and Aneka Warna.(, 2015)

Aneka Warna, an entertainment magazine which were popular in Malaya and it was mainly targeted to adults. It contained soft porn stories and sexy photographs of foreign as well as local actresses and singers. Asmara was another entertainment magazine that focused on issues regarding women and love. It contained many sexual pictures, women love stories and pictures of Hollywood and Bollywood artists. Fashion, the first Malay Fashion weekly magazine of Malaya that lasted for 15 years contained news and articles on women and fashion , film stars and linked fashion of clothes to ways of modern living.(, 2015)

Involvement of western culture and mindset toward the beauty of body developed a new trend of exercising among Malay women in order to get beautiful bodies. Women’s bodies, became a key indicator in showing women’s status and position. Therefore, those articles which I have mentioned above were showing the content related to beautiful body becomes a powerful assets in showing confidence and maintaining sexual attraction in marriage. They want to give women the emphasization on the needs of time, money and efforts investment on their bodies. Such articles can be seen through magazines such as Asmara. Adopting the beauty care of western women seems a must preference for Malay women in that stage. Makeup and skin care become the needs in order to become stunning. Learning on ways of wearing high heels, making modern western hairstyle, matching accessories with clothes became part of modernity’s lessons. Malay women’s preoccupations with beautification in this period were characteristic of this time Furthermore, over emphasising on sexuality and recommendation of implying seductive manner in magazine such as Asmara causing Malay women begin to lose their identity. Term of “malu”  is being applied within these women that mimicked the Western culture and exposed their body to the public. “Malu” has several connotation but the meaning here were most probably saying they were ashamed in carrying the honor of family and society.(, 2015)

In conclusion, modernity of malay women might be great in encouraging them to improve their appearance just like how the western female did in order to be more confident and impressive.  However malay women were losing their identity and experiencing corruption in morality while chasing for fancy and perfection. Islamic intellectuals also showed their anxieties toward the adoption of western modernity in malay female society as they clearly understand that those “modern” practices were opposing their Malay and Islamic believes.  Magazines at here become a wicked tool in spreading the yellow culture and influencing women’s decision making process. They were used for the inappropriate  intentian, leading Malay women to a dark world of American influence and causing them being judged and criticised badly.

Here are the magazine cover of Fashion magazine and Asmara magazine that I kept mentioned and discussed about. Evidence of western culture was being implemented in Malay female society could be seen through these magazines.

fashion magazine

image above shows the magazine cover of Fashion. As you can clearly seen from the screenshot, the women began to know how to make up.They darken their eye brow and coloured their lip with striking red lipstick. On the corner left, there was image of the main character in the magazine was wearing a gorgeous western gown while taking photo, showing the implementation of western culture in their fashion.(, 2015)

asmara magazine

Image above shows the Malay women were presented themselves in a more sexy way. Implementation of western culture can be seen through this magazine cover. For example, all the models in the cover were wearing makeup and their red lips were sharp and recognisable. Their hair was being permed or tied prettily. Besides, the model in the middle was wearing a sweet heart line dress that showing half of her breast and posing a sexy pose while taking photos. The most significant and prove the adoption of western modernity occurred would be their high heels. (, 2015), (2015). [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Jun. 2015]., (2015). Sejarah Wanita » Women’s Magazines in Malaysia. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Jun. 2015].

Roles of Magazine and Women Before Independence

In the earlier post, I have mentioned a little bit about pin up girls,a series of western magazine covers which touches the topic of women’s liberation. They portray a lot of sexy appearance and free mindset of western women from illustrated version to photography based magazine. Magazine becomes one of their tool to communicate ideas and create sense of community. From that direction, I made further research and I found out there were magazines that discussed a lot about the transformation of  female in Malaysia which also involve ideas of liberation, emancipation and nationalism.

Before Malaysia Independence, magazines related to the idea of femininity and roles of female were playing the significant roles in history of Malaysia. They provide a platform for females to exchange ideas and discuss about the society issues  while the country was experiencing revolutionary changes from the colonialism influence and process of getting freedom.

Bulan Melayu by the Malay Women Teachers Association of Johor is established during the British colonial era and known as the first female magazine in Malaya . This magazine was mainly about the highly educated female teachers in gaining freedom and changing the common stereotype that women were only qualified to stay at home. They want to prove their determination, capability and efforts in achieving success. During 1938, this magazine shown how Malay teachers in raising up the illiterate issue among daughters due to the narrow minded of the Malay parents who afraid the lost of Malay identity once they were influenced by the western culture, as well as the importance of education among the malay women. Malay women were motivated to begin small business with the skills they have such as cooking, sewing and making accessories as they might have the potential to sell their products in a wider market if they work well. From this perspective, magazine here became the tool in educating malay women to have faith in themselves and try their best in maintaining their status in the society with certain contribution.  Forming of islamic modernist society achieve the goal of Bulan Melayu which was to “assist fellow women, whether those working at home or those working outside, such school teachers” and to bring “enlightenment to the Malay world.” (Anon, 2015)

bulan melayu

Illustration above shows the magazine cover screenshot from a well known Malaysia website “Sejarah Wanita”.(, 2015)

Through the illustration above, you may see women engaged themselves in various type of careers.Those educated malay women teachers were The illustration shows that they are really capable and their existences played important roles in society because they involved not only in household work such as cooking and sewing but they also draw, write and type as well. Furthermore, you could observe that they were wearing the same traditional Malay costumes, signify their love toward their identity and culture did not change though they accepted british’s education.


image above shows Mujallah Guru, 1957

Furthermore, there was non-women magazines that voiced out idea of femininity and roles of women too. For example, Mujallah Guru that published in 1924 by Malay Teachers Association is the first magazine that allocated a special column for women writers, entitle”Bahagian Perempuan”. These female teachers were given opportunities to share their traditional Malay ideas on femininity and roles of women as wives and mothers. Consciousness about issues related child marriage, abusive act and violence against women as well as education opportunities among daughters were raised through this magazine. (, 2015)


image above shows Fajar Asia, 1943

During Japanese colonialism, mass communication mediums such as newspaper and magazines have been used as propaganda tools. Involvement of japanese culture could be seen through Japanese sponsored magazines such as Fajar Asia and Semangat Asia that both published in 1943.  In these magazine, women’s section were provided to implement idea of adopting japanese women’s culture and putting them as role model in Malay female society. This was to encourage Malay women to love and ready to sacrifice for the society just like the . attitude of japanese women in dealing with their husband’s household, raising and educating children as well as working in the industry (, 2015)

In conclusion, we could see that magazines before independence were mostly used to express the mindset of femininity and roles of women in society.This is important as it represent the starting point of how female magazines developed and become a significant trend mark in society later.

Annotated Bibliography

Anon, (2015). [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Jun. 2015]., (2015). [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Jun. 2015]., (2015). Sejarah Wanita » Women’s Magazines in Malaysia. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Jun. 2015].

The Fashion Of Cleopatra

Cleopatra become a mythological creature and has been depicted in art ever since. In 20th century, Cleopatra has been established in moving image form and each Cleopatra film gives the variation of Egyptian themes. With the help of this film production, Egyptian fashion became viral and earn its position in fashion world till now. From 1917, the fashion began with Egyptian motifs, sheer, gauzy skirts and teeny, ornate bra and was just started to move away from the corseted figure. Heavy Egyptian makeup also adapt to the fashion during 20’s. Simple geometry on the luxurious gold silky skirt,  goddess imaginary subjects like peacock, wings as well as gold accessories always become the remarkable elements for the impression of people in Egyptian fashion.(Thread for Thought, 2010)

During 60’s, Cleopatra by Elizabeth Taylor also inspired some popular styles such as the psychedelic colors, blue eye shadow, liquid eyeliner and cinched waist, and won an Oscar for Best Costume Design.  The allure, sexiness and feminine characteristic of the character are being conveyed and well expressed through the costume design, become the representative in fashion. Taylor’s Cleopatra becomes a known fashion icon with shimmery metallic fabrics, one shouldered gowns and Grecian draping, heavy ornate bib necklaces and beautiful violet eyed make up on her era and still resonates today.(Berry and Berry, 2015)

Egyptian fashion continues its influential through the 2011 fashion show of Victoria’s Secret Fashion show,2012  Superbowl appearance by Madonna and lastly 2014 Katy Perry’s official album The Dark Horse.(, 2015)

In conclusion, female’s ideas and attitudes are always related to each other.Cleopatra is the best example, presenting her image with daring and exaggerate fashion to represent her unbreakable spirit and her fearless desire to rule the world.

Let’s look at some pictures on Cleopatra’s fashion.


picture 1 shows painting of  Cleopatra on The Terraces of Philae by Fredrick Arthur Bridgman in 1896.

This historical painting “Cleopatra on the Terraces of Philae” by Fredrick Arthur Bridgman during 1896 is one of my favorite, though Cleopatra is not the main focus in this painting and she is just a beautiful woman that prepare to depart by boat but this shows how wealthy her era was when she was a Queen. Through the marble made building,we can see the prosperity that Egypt once had. (, 2015)


picture 2 shows Theda Bara is acting as a goddess character in Cleopatra film 1917.

During 1917, Theda Bara as Cleopatra shows herself as a rich and powerful woman as she was wearing silky dress with a lot of accessories which in her era all of these were a kind of luxurious items.


picture 3 shows magazine cover illustrated by Cleopatra in The American Weekly-Oct.13, 1946

Henry Clive painted Cleopatra during 1946 as magazine cover of the American Weekly .His inspiration came from a series of images Clive entitled “Pin Up Girls of history” which is related to the liberation of women and the freedom they gain. The sexy, wild, and free characteristics of female are being portrayed in the magazines and posters.(The Huffington Post, 2015) In this painting, he used the features of a lovely Hollywood film star Dorothy Lamour, who is impossible in creating exotic feeling to be his Cleopatra to draw comparison to the legendary queen of the Nile, though the actress never portrayed her in film.(Grapefruit Moon Gallery, 2012)

Elizabeth Taylor (1932-2011), British actress, in costume wearing eye make-up in a publicity still issued for the film, 'Cleopatra', 1963. The historical drama, directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz (1909-1993), starred Taylor as 'Cleopatra'. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)
Elizabeth Taylor (1932-2011), British actress, in costume wearing eye make-up in a publicity still issued for the film, ‘Cleopatra’, 1963. The historical drama, directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz (1909-1993), starred Taylor as ‘Cleopatra’. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)

picture 4 shows Cleopatra acted by Elizabeth Taylor during 60s which gets award winning in her costume.

This is how Cleopatra was being dressed in Cleopatra film by Elizabeth Taylor at 60s. The significant blue eyeshadow, sharp edgy eyeliner, gold accessories and broad shoulder dress clearly shown her characteristic as a Queen, ego but remain feminine.(Kniveton, 2013)


picture 5 shows Katy Perry act as Cleopatra and yelling for power in her song” The Dark Horse”

In 21st century, Cleopatra’s fashion has not fade and recently it is being applied in famous singer Katy Perry’s album “The Dark Horse”. I choose this image as it shows the power of Cleopatra by the gold made gown, detail and bold! The eye make up also add in little creativity to make this  “Ceopatra” version differ from others.


picture 6 shows one of my friend, June in Egyptian Style that inspired by the song The Dark Horse by Katy Perry.

This is the image how my friend mimicked the Egyptian Style in The Dark Horse that song. She looks absolutely stunning, showing the confidence with the simple flying silky dress and the exaggerate eye make up made her looked seductive as well.

Biibliography, (2015). Ancient Egyptian Clothing: Ancient Egypt: Queen Cleopatra — Facts, Pictures and Dress. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 Jun. 2015].

Berry, A. and Berry, A. (2015). 50 Years Later: How Cleopatra Continues to Influence Fashion Today | [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 Jun. 2015]., (2015). Frederick Arthur Bridgman, Cleopatra on the Terraces of Philae. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Jun. 2015].

Grapefruit Moon Gallery, (2012). Pin Up Girls of History-Cleopatra. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Jun. 2015]., (2015). [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Jun. 2015].

Cleopatra- The Remarkable Woman.

Women who are remarkable and once to be a trend and mouthful topic.

Female character is often used to be the subject of advertising and in this post, I will show how a successful woman, Cleopatra’s  ( Queen of Egypt)  attitude in playing a her role and can become the subject of award winning film, acted by Elizabeth. Besides of discussing about the success achieved, I also will include how this character contribute to fashion world in the next post.

During the ancient, male-dominated world, Cleopatra is truly a remarkable example in showing herself as the powerful woman and  a legend. She is the youngest leader with the age of eighteen, in Egypt after his father Alexander the Great’s was exiled due to political matters. She ruled her kingdom for more than two thousand years with the control on Egypt and other lands including most of the eastern Mediterranean country. (Anon, 2015)As a goddess, she was known for her striking personality, sharp intelligence and her alliances with the most powerful men of her time.

A greek barbarian, Cleopatra earned her status with her ability in speaking nine languages and the loyalty of her people with the fame of “People’ Princess” by speaking Egyptian other than only Greek.(Anon, 2015) Besides, she showed her confidence with claim of she was the reincarnation of Isis, goddess of motherhood and fertility.(Anon, 2015) This can be shown through her orchestration through the ritual burial of the Buchis bull shortly after her father’s death and she was just crowned.(Anon, 2015) With the well used in her precise understanding and sexuality, she successfully ensnare men like Julius Caesar ( one of the most powerful men in Rome during that era) in order to help Egypt as a whole.(Anon, 2015). The statement is proven when she successfully battled her brother’s troops, gain back her throne with the  her pregnant of Caesar’s son during the civil war against her brother and his influence.(Anon, 2015) Cleopatra captivates Caesar was not because of her youth and beauty, but her unique interpretation toward knowledge and well communication through multi language, proves that Cleopatra has in own fashion, in a unique way.  After her husband Julius Caesar were murdered, she went back to Egypt, poisoned her brother and announced her son as a co-ruler, entirely secured her kingdom.(, 2013) Cleopatra showed her power in giving the help of Egyptian army  forces and money to Mark Anthony.(, 2013) They soon married and she showed her mother love  toward Anthony’s children. They eventually died of suicide because of the losing war with Octavian. (, 2013)

Cleopatra was indeed a legend that represent beauty, seduction, love and femininity all in one. As mentioned, at an early age, she is single handedly led her people intelligently and reform economic to save her people from Egypt, changing the stereotype of woman cannot lead a land without the guidance of a man. Cleopatra involves femininity in her strategies , showing her unique charm in winning the protection when her position is danger. Though she is a queen, but she is a mother , she protects her children by securing the kingdom, giving them the continuation of control. Though there is the misunderstanding toward Cleopatra as love liar and someone who used men for her intention but I personally disagree as her capability in controlling world is the one who wins the men’s help. I believe a women like Cleopatra that has brilliant mind would have other solutions too when facing the problems if without the help of men.

Anon, (2015). [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 Jun. 2015]., (2015). [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 Jun. 2015]., (2013). Cleopatra’s Relationships with Julius Caesar and Mark Antony. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 Jun. 2015].

Stay Pretty Just Like Ugly Betty

Recently, I had read an interesting book, Media, Gender and Identity by David Gauntlett. Throughout the study process, I found a case study that is really inspiring. It is about a short film called Ugly Betty. I personally feel Betty can become a very good example in changing the perception and stereotype of society toward woman, from typically housewife to successful employee, promoting self esteem and empowerment. She has an incredible personality and charming attitude, which helps her to change her employer’s perspective. This film is all about the high fashion world and surrounds by make up, models and designers. Betty seems incoherent in that society, she wears an old fashioned spectacles and has braces on her teeth. Such weak yet tiny character stands out with her indomitable spirit and bright ideas, eventually win audience’s attention. It becomes TV No 1 comedy programme with most viewers.

In Betty’s culture, stick-thin models are the significant trend mark for fashion, but Betty creates the arguments and different viewpoint. The present of this character is to tell the society a message that beauty is only skin deep, don’t judge a person by his or her appearance.

Actress Ferrera, who plays Betty mentioned that it is her first time feeling beautiful as she can use her career to touch and inspire all girls to be tough and intelligent.

Gauntlett, D. (2002). Media, gender, and identity. London: Routledge., (2015). [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Jun. 2015].