Last image: Banda, Uttar Pradesh, India - rally of women from the Gulabi Gang, wearing pink sari to fight against violence against women, (c) Joerg Boethling, Alamy Stock Photo
Worn as an everyday garment by some and considered by others to be formal or uncomfortable, the sari has multiple definitions. Conventionally an unstitched drape wrapped around the body, which can be draped in a variety of ways, its unfixed form has enabled it to morph and absorb changing cultural influences.
In recent years, the sari has been reinvented. Designers are experimenting with hybrid forms such as sari gowns and dresses, pre-draped saris and innovative materials such as steel. Young people in cities who used to associate the sari with dressing up can now be found wearing saris and sneakers on their commutes to work. Individuals are wearing the sari as an expression of resistance to social norms and activists are embodying it as an object of protest.
Today, the sari in urban India manifests as a site for design innovation, an expression of identity, and a crafted object carrying layers of cultural meanings. The exhibition unravels the sari as a metaphor for the complex definitions of India today.