The UK’s first ever large-scale exhibition to show off contemporary Indian sari design will be opening at the Design Museum in May

The exhibition, The Offbeat Sari, will bring together over 90 examples of saris made over the past decade, nearly all of which will be on loan from designers and studios across India and have never been seen in Britain before.

The sari – which is ubiquitous across India and South Asia – has experienced a radical 21st century overhaul, and the Design Museum will explore this reinvention in their summer exhibition, shedding a spotlight on contemporary Indian fashion for UK audiences.

Photo Hormis Antony Tharakan

Conventionally a single piece of unstitched fabric, the sari is inherently fluid. Adapted in drape and form over millennia, it reflects identity, social class, taste and function across time and geography, and remains an enduring part of life in India today. Yet in recent decades, for many, the sari has been considered traditional, or uncomfortable as a form of everyday clothing, especially by young people.

But now the sari has been reenergised. The Offbeat Sari exhibition will show how designers, wearers and craftspeople are reshaping the ways in which the sari is understood, designed, made and worn in contemporary urban India.

Young people in cities – who previously associated the sari with dressing up – can now be found wearing saris and sneakers on their commutes to work.

A significant highlight of the exhibition will be the first ever sari worn at the famed Met Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Designed by Sabyasachi, and styled with a gold Schiaparelli bodice, the stunning ensemble was worn by Indian businesswoman and socialite Natasha Poornawalla, and made headlines around the world in May 2022 for its dramatic mix of Indian and Western couture.

This is the first time it will have been seen in Britain, and only the second time the ensemble will have been displayed in a museum exhibition, after being shown in Monaco last summer.

Photo by John Angelillo UPIAlamy Live News

The exhibition, The Offbeat Sari will open at the Design Museum on 19th May and will run until 17th September 2023.

Tickets are on sale now from here.

  • Adult tickets from £12.60
  • Child tickets from £6.30
  • Student/Concession tickets from £9.50

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