For this post, I'd like to share a more visual transition of the Baju Kurung and illustrate how current trends of the garment are inspired by Western/American fashion.
If you're still wondering how a traditional Baju Kurung looks like, this classic look is your answer. Observe the cutting, the fabric and the pattern of the dress. One would say it's very modest and conservative, the loose-fitted blouse hides the shape of the woman's body and the length of the blouse hangs right above the knee. This is because Eid is an Islamic celebration, thus as a Muslim you need to dress appropriately and modestly to show decency. As for the fabric and patterns, cotton, satin and songket were most popular used to make the garments and usually the patterns are rather simple. Floral designs were quite common however, the colours of the flowers would usually blend in with the fabric.
2. The Colour Blocking
The classic design was in demand till late 90s and early 2000s, however lately there has been a gradual change in the aesthetics. We started to explore with more colours by matching two colours together or using bold and bright colours. Whether in subtle pastels or bold shades, this much-loved trend works perfectly on traditional two-pieces, flattering proportions and providing a festive splash of colour.
I would imagine they picked up the inspiration from Hollywood trendy celebrities, no?
3. The Peplum Inspired
Soon after, we enter into the Peplum fever! Peplum here, peplum there, peplum everywhere. I think it is safe to say that we were OBSESSED!! As you can see, the style was yet again picked up from well-known designers such as Dior, Armani and even the one and only Vera Wang. Although peplums were often sleeveless, Malaysian fashion designer, Jovian Mandagie made adjustment and created long sleeve peplums that comes with matching maxi skirt that exudes both flair and poise. This fresh new look became such a hit that every other baju kurung store were making knock-offs and inspired dresses to profit from the high demand. And while peplums are a fairly recent addition to the baju raya, they have since become a common feature on floor-length dresses and contemporary baju kurung alike. These decidedly feminine additions vary in drama - from longer, lightly pleated chiffon cascading atop mermaid skirts to voluminous structures that majorly accentuate the waistline.
4. The Mermaid Inspired
And just last year, mermaid skirt was the major trend in Singapore and Malaysia. Every Malay girl wanted to own a mermaid kurung of their own. There are two styles to love - mermaid skirt with a blouse or a long maxi dress with mermaid cut at the bottom. This was and still is a major hit because it accentuates the flattering hour glass body figure and gives the impression of being tall and slim. This new found elegance in the baju kurung brings out the classy chick in every Malay girl and it is definitely a to-die-for dress for Eid and even special occasions.
5. The New, The Bold and The Beauty
Today, these are the new baju kurung you'll find when Eid is just around the corner. You can find baju kurungs in all kinds of style, designs, patterns and colours that it's really a tough job to pick the perfect one. While traditional baju kurung are still available for purchase, the younger generation highly prefers these modern, chic dresses they consider as the baju melayu. The designs of the baju kurung has evolved so much with the influenced of Western fashion that while it has successfully refined elegance, class and poise, it lost the traditional essence of the original Baju kurung along the way.
For instance, such readjustments to the traditional garment has resulted in a far shorter blouse for the kurung. Instead of the knee-length, it now drops at the hips, exposing the thighs and occasionally the back. In my opinion, while the new designs are loved by the masses, such a change may also reflect the lost of purpose of the traditional garment to dress modest as rather than hiding a woman's figure, it accentuates further with the tight-fitting and body-hugging cutting.