Singapore Girl gets a makeover for subtler, modern look

Body-hugging kebaya stays while bright blue eyeshadow is toned down

THE Singapore Girl has junked her bright blue eyeshadow for a more subtle and modern look.

She is still immaculate in her body-hugging signature kebaya with her hair nicely done, but the colours on her face are less striking.

In her first major makeover in more than a decade, the iconic Singapore Airlines (SIA) Girl is sticking to blue, green, plum and brown eye make-up, and red lipstick to complement the colours of her kebaya.

But the tones and shades are more subtle than before and trendier, said the airline's head of cabin crew, Mr Marvin Tan. "When we embarked on this project with our long-time grooming partner Lancome, we took into account feedback from some customers that the previous colours seemed to be on the strong side," he told The Straits Times last week.

It is not just about shades and hues, but application and blending techniques as well, in projecting the more "contemporary" look, added Lancome's spokesman, Ms Jamie Ong.

Freelance make-up artist Dollei Seah believes that SIA is taking the right step. "Wearing a blue outfit with blue make-up is very 80s. You can keep the blue but it should not be too much and it should be blended with other shades to create a more natural look."

For the last two months, the stewardesses have been taught to create the new look for themselves - part of a grooming road show to reiterate the importance of looking and feeling good, said Mr Tan.

There is also a new crew lounge at SIA's control centre at Changi Airport Terminal 3 for last-minute touch-ups before a flight.

To fly high in a tough business, SIA has invested in both hardware and heartware.

Last August, for example, it announced plans for a major cabin, seat and in-flight entertainment overhaul. The new products will be rolled out on new planes from the second half of this year.

Good service is equally important, said Mr Tan. "If you ask people what is the first thing that comes to mind when they think of SIA, the answer is usually our cabin crew. The kebaya comes to mind, the service culture comes to mind," he said.

Maintaining an edge over rivals like Emirates and Cathay, which are also continuously investing in improvements, is more of a challenge today than before, said industry experts.

To emulate the grace and service culture of the SIA Girl, carriers like Jet Airways have also hired former SIA trainers.

SIA, which runs one of the longest cabin crew training programmes in the industry at 15 weeks, will stay focused on what it needs to do, said Mr Tan.

On comments made by some travellers that service levels have slipped and are inconsistent, he said: "This is a challenge for any organisation that continues to grow and we will keep working at this."

It is also important to drive bonding and camaraderie among an increasingly diverse pool of crew members, he added.

SIA has about 7,800 cabin crew and seven in 10 of them are Singaporeans. The rest are from Malaysia and other countries, including China, Japan, India and Thailand.

Mr Tan said: "Everyone has an opinion on SIA service and our cabin crew. People want to give feedback and I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing.

"Our crew work very hard and do us a lot of credit but we also know we have to keep working and improving."

Businessman Alex Wong, 53, said: "I'm glad the SIA Girl is moving towards a softer look. I do think some of them are too heavily made up, especially when compared with girls from other carriers."

karam@sph.com.sg