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Press release:

Fashion exhibition SARI/STATEMENT opening 12 April


SARI/STATEMENT, Fashion from India, is on display from 12 April at Wereldmuseum Amsterdam. The touring exhibition from The Design Museum, London explores the versatility of the contemporary sari by bringing together some 60 trailblazing saris from designers, wearers and craftspeople in India and across the diaspora. In the past decade, the sari has gained momentum, with designers experimenting with innovative wearing styles and materials, particularly targeting a younger generation in emerging cities. With this exhibition, Wereldmuseum Amsterdam responds to this renewed popularity of the sari, which has a major impact on global fashion trends.


The globally well-known garment from South Asia has a rich history with various cultural influences, but has rarely been exhibited in its contemporary form. The contemporary saris presented in SARI/STATEMENT are from distinguished brands in the Indian and international fashion world. Those by fashion house Abu Jani Sandeep Khosla, worn by actress Deepika Padukone at Cannes Film Festival in 2022 and the sari by Indian fashion house Tarun Tahiliani, worn by Lady Gaga in 2011 during her debut show in India are absolute highlights. The same goes for the stylish minimalistic sari by celebrated fashion designer Sabyasachi and the pink piece by designer Jan Taminiau, worn by Queen Máxima for a state visit to India. Contemporary makers experiment with new and upcycled materials abundantly. For instance, the exhibition shows a sari covered with sequins, made from X-ray film, in which hospital waste becomes fashion: designers Abraham & Thakore thus provide a unique take on the theme of sustainability.


After India becoming independent, the sari reflects shifting national identities  and it continues to be an important form of cultural expression for people from India and its diaspora. The exhibition also examines the role of the wearer in the recent reinvention of the sari.  Through the sari, the individual wearer conveys their identity. On display, among others, is singer-songwriter Priya Ragu's red sari, which she combined with streetwear accessories in her music video 'Good Love 2.0'. She proudly celebrates her Tamil-Swiss heritage as "a mix of everything", of Western and South Asian culture. In many ways, the sari embodies an immense variety of voices and personalities and allows individuality to flourish. Exclusive to Wereldmuseums sari exhibition, design duo LOBOMAR will showcase the latest collection of their sari-inspired streetwear. Paying homage to their Indian grandmother and her love of wearing saris, LOBOMAR plays with different drapes, materials and even headwear to create innovative sari styles that honour their origins.


SARI/STATEMENT also explores deeper layers related to identity and resistance. In the exhibition, you will see the sari as a powerful symbol of the Pink Sari Movement also known as 'The Gulabi Gang'. The group was founded in 2006 to advocate for women's rights. It counters domestic violence, child marriage and sexual abuse in rural northern India. A different and highly successful form of resistance is the hand-woven saris with endangered bird motifs by 'The Hargila Army'. Woven by women in Northeast India, they gained their financial independence through the production of bird saris, and have thus contributed to a significant regrowth of the local endangered bird species.


The touring exhibition from the Design Museum, London includes more than sixty saris from prominent designers in the Indian and international fashion world. These are complemented by the Wereldmuseum with some objects from its own collection and borrowed works. Besides the rich saris, the exhibition offers photographs and videos showing how the sari has changed over time. Visitors are invited to immerse themselves in the diversity of the sari, from street culture to haute couture.

The exhibition SARI/STATEMENT will be on display from 12 April to 3 November 2024 at Wereldmuseum Amsterdam.