Capturing an Icon: What It Takes to Truly Captivate Whole Generations

The reign of an ideal used to last longer than a fortnight. Take a page from these Malaysian eternal beauties and find yours.
malaysian beauty queens

These days, it almost feels like you can classify which -core someone is adopting at the moment. As of writing, the masses are enthralled with the mob wife aesthetic, and news outlets everywhere are reporting on a new hue of brown dubbed “chocolate syrup” (it’s really just brown, everybody) that Hailey Bieber is toning her tresses with—which we’ll soon see people running to the salon for.

Trends are a great way to have fun and showcase personality, but there is an argument to be made that social media is speeding up homogeneity. With our almost instantaneous access to global celebrities and key opinion leaders in your tristate area alike, we are cycling through beauty trends faster than ever. Add to that the powerhouse of a marketing machine that is the beauty industry—that often taps the aforementioned celebrities and influencers—and we arrive at the land of hyperconsumerism.

But what happens to individuality? It gets swept away in the currents of hashtags and views. Gone are the days of a truly signature look that has the power to catapult someone to idol status. Back then, we had the likes of Brigitte Bardot, Audrey Hepburn, and even Amy Winehouse leading the pack with the wonders they can achieve with a liner. Or Twiggy and Grace Jones with how they took the bold route with their eye makeup, all without losing that iconic essence.

Much closer to home, we, too, had these entertainment goddesses who put forth archetypal beauty inspiration. Keep reading to get to know these Malaysian beauty queens, as well as tips on how to achieve their quintessential style.

A Look into Malaysian Beauty Queens of the Past

Saloma, the Showstopping Songstress

malaysian beauty queens, saloma, p ramlee

Regarded as Malaysia’s very own Marilyn Monroe, the singer and actress is one of the nation’s most decorated divas of all time. Signed onto what was one of the big fours in the music game, EMI, Saloma‘s songs remain significant to this day—“Selamat Hari Raya” is practically a national anthem during Eid celebrations.

A product of her time, this Malaysian beauty queen’s look involved a voluminous hairdo, arched eyebrows, and a crisp cat eyeliner. The skin was completely matte, which is perfect for longevity. In the 50s, with the frenzy surrounding Revlon’s Fire and Ice campaign (which is arguably the first ad campaign to posit that women don makeup for themselves, and not men), it’s no surprise that an impactful wash of creamy red lipstick was included into the beauty routine when the occasion calls for it.

Steal her look: ARMANI BEAUTY Lip Maestro Satin in 10, BENEFIT COSMETICS Goof Proof Eyebrow Pencil in 6 Cool Soft Black, TARTE Tarteist Double Take Eyeliner in Black, PERCY & REED Hold It Right There Strong Hold Hairspray, IT COSMETICS Bye Bye Pores Silk HD Anti-Aging Micro-Powder

Ella, Malaysia’s Queen of Rock

malaysian beauty queens, ella, malaysian rock princess

Only 10 years after going solo, Ella found herself at the opening of the 1998 KL Commonwealth Games. The games were a landmark event, as Malaysia was the first Asian country to host the games, which was then one of the biggest world sporting events. So it was apt that the rock star took to the stage and performed “Standing in the Eyes of the World”, off of her Simbiosis album.

The 90’s diva found continued success to the present day, selling out venues and adding days to her tour to appease adoring fans. With a career spanning decades, we’ve seen Ella shapeshift multiple times. However, her most iconic look is the smokey eye paired with nude lipstick and a peachy blush to add a touch of warmth to the skin, a trademark look made viral by the Kardashians.

Steal her look: CHANEL Les 4 Ombres in 388 Éclat de Nuit, LANCÔME Grandiôse Waterproof Mascara in 01 Noir Mirifique, HOURGLASS Ambient Lighting Blush in Dim Infusion, SMASHBOX Always On Gel Liner in Fishnet, MAC COSMETICS Powder Kiss Lipstick in My Tweedy

Anita Sarawak, the Feminist Icon

malaysian beauty queens, anita sarawak

Though she has long fled the limelight for a life of quiescence in Las Vegas, Nevada, Anita Sarawak’s energy lives on locally through her smash hits. The title track of Seksis is a celebrated song that stands in the face of patriarchy and remains relevant to this day. At her peak, the showperson even had an 18-year-long residency at Caesar’s Palace in the 80’s.

Her time in the music industry began in 1972—although she had already dabbled in entertainment since she was 14. When Sarawak was active in the game, she rejuvenated her glamour multiple times to move with the times. But across the eras, this Malaysian beauty queen remained bold in her stylistic choices, including those of beauty. There were always exaggerated lashes, frosty lips that oozed dimension, and sometimes, a masterclass in donning blue eyeshadow.

Steal her look: VISEART Eyeshadow Palette in 04 Dark Mattes, KVD BEAUTY Full Sleeve Long Defined Tubing Mascara, CIATÉ LONDON Glitter Storm Lipstick in Apollo, SEPHORA COLLECTION Glossed Lip Gloss in 145 Special