“The traditional Nyonya sarong kebaya worn today stopped evolving in the 1950s. Bebe has single-handedly hauled it into the 21st century, transforming it from something only elderly ladies would wear, into a contemporary fashion statement” – excerpt from book "Junk to Jewels".
Inspired and intrigued by the centuries - old embroidery techniques of Indonesian artisans who have made the nyonya kebaya famous, Rumah Bebe prides herself on an extensive range of ready-to-wear and customised kebayas, as well as other Peranakan-inspired attire; there’s a style to suit everyone, every occasion and every budget. Bebe has introduced the use of more glamorous and comfortable fabrics like organza-silks, floral or plain, complementing each creation with variations in the cut and tailoring styles. Each piece is a product of meticulous embroidery that often takes months to finish.
Bebe has also created a stylish mode of wearing the sarong, through the use of fine silk or voile batik. Wearing a traditionally wrapped cotton sarong can be rather cumbersome. Many a nyonya often has to adjust the front flap of her sarong whenever she gets up from a seat because her sarong would have spread to a loose “A-line” shape that is not complimentary to her figure. Furthermore the sarong has to be held up securely by a belt. Bebe’s distinctive method of “wrap-n-twist” sarong tying with the softer fabric has become an eternal icon, well-used and copied all over, thanks to its elegance, comfort and practicality.
Kasut Manek (Beaded Shoes)
The kasut manek is the only form of footwear that a nyonya would wear with her sarong kebaya attire. These beaded mules are backless shoes in low, high or chunky heels, in wedges or even platforms, with either an open-toe or closed-toe shoe-front. Each shoe-front is adorned and hand-embellished with minuscule glass beads, forming motifs of butterflies, geometric or floral galore.
The price of each pair of kasut manek is determined by several factors:
Brooch cum pendant
Jewellery & Accessories
A nyonya’s collection of jewellery would include a range of brooches, belts and buckles, necklaces, earrings, hairpins, bracelets, bangles, rings, anklets and oftentimes silver-mesh purses. The most indispensable item are the brooches (called kerosang) used to fasten the front of the baju panjang or kebaya. Another essential item is the silver belt, used to hold the sarong around the waist. Traditionally, nyonyas would style their long hair into chignons, secured with hairpins of silver or gold, studded with intan or diamonds. On special occasions, it is time for a nyonya to show off her collection of jewellery and she would wear several items at once.