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Natasha Poonawalla at the 2022 Met Gala
Natasha Poonawalla at the 2022 Met GalaCourtesy of Getty Images, Mike Coppola

A new exhibition unravels the knotted symbolism of the sari

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Loaded with tradition and resistance, the sari is the subject of a new exhibition at London’s Design Museum. How did a swag of unstitched drape become a metaphor for the tangled definitions of contemporary India? How has it modernised to accommodate the lives of young people? How has it evolved to become a site of avant-garde innovation? How did Dior end up paying homage to the sari at its megawatt fashion show last month? Curator Priya Khanchandani maps these cultural histories across more than 60 saris, including those made from hospital waste, those worn at the Met Gala, and those that weren’t made to be worn at all – like Bharti Kher’s lacquered sculpture, which creates a portrait of an absent parent figure. Alongside the exhibition, the Design Museum will host a series of workshops with the hope of broadening the conversation to a new generation of intellectual aesthetes – among them sari-draping sessions and panel discussions on the topic of ownership and appropriation. The Offbeat Sari runs until September 17 and tickets can be purchased here