The surprising secrets of Singapore Airlines’ iconic uniform

Consistently awarded best airline and cabin crew, Singapore Airlines has become synonymous with service excellence the world over. Upholding these high standards are the airline’s incredible cabin crew, instantly recognisable in their iconic uniform – the sarong kebaya. Here, Luxury Escapes reveals the fascinating facts behind the making of the sarong kebaya.

The uniform hasn’t changed in over 50 years

Since 1968, the Singapore Airlines uniform – otherwise known as the sarong kebaya – has been an integral part of the cabin crew’s uniform. Created from batik silk, the classic design has become synonymous with the airline’s reputation for service excellence. Instantly recognisable, the uniform remains almost unchanged more than 50 years after its inception.

It was designed by a famous French fashion designer

In 1974, French designer Pierre Balmain was commissioned to reimagine the female cabin crew’s uniform. However, the designer was so taken with the look, he only modified it very slightly. “I approve of your sarong kebaya,” he said. “I think it’s very graceful, and if any alterations are to be made, they should only be to make the dress easier to wear.”

Singapore Airlines Stewardess Miss See Biew Wah, with sarong kebaya creator and designer Pierre Balmain, and Madame Madeleine Kohler, Balmain’s Director of Creations and Special Projects

It has in-built safety features

In keeping with Balmain’s vision, the uniform was designed to include safety features, vital in an emergency. The slit of the skirt allows cabin crew to hold the two corners of fabric and tie them above the knee, making the skirt shorter and more practical.

Each uniform is tailormade

Singapore Airlines’ cabin crew always look immaculate – and one reason is their perfectly fitted uniform. By special request of Balmain, each uniform is tailormade to fit the stewardess wearing it. The same is done for male cabin crew’s suits, each one tailored to ensure the best fit!

Four colours, four roles

While the style of the uniform never changes, the colour does – and it’s all to do with the role of the cabin crew wearing it. The signature blue shade is most widely recognised and denotes a flight stewardess. Green is for leading stewardesses, red for chief stewardesses and purple for in-flight managers. The ties of Singapore Airlines’ male cabin crew follow the same colour designation.

Make-up to match

The immaculate look of Singapore Airlines’ cabin crew doesn’t end with the uniform – every crew member is also assigned make-up to complement her her outfit. Blue or brown palettes for those wearing blue; olive, plum or brown for leading stewardesses; plum or brown for chief stewardesses and blue, plum or brown for in-flight managers. The male crew are also assigned make-up to match their skin tone, while all crew are trained in how to take care of their skin to protect it from the rigours of flying.

Singapore Airlines is renowned for its award-winning service, taking you to over 130 destinations around the globe.


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