Supreme: The Offbeat Sari — The Design Museum, London

Susan Tailby
3 min readSep 19, 2023
A gorgeous display of modern saris, including one in blue denim

What an amazing exhibition! Why have I never been to The Design Museum before?

Perfectly curated, The Offbeat Sari displayed a variety of stylings and materials, as well as a whole room devoted to the making of saris, with example of materials and textiles as well as the tools that made them on display. Even better was the information about the designers behind the displayed items, and the meaning — there were leisurewear saris to skate in, to play cricket and move in, to wall climb and to protest for women’s rights and ecological justice in. Pink is not just for Barbies — but for protest…

The layout of the exhibition was perfect too. There was space to look at items without crowding each other. Noticeably people were incredibly kind and considerate of one another — it’s the first exhibition in ages where I haven’t had a phone, camera or other gadget shoved in my face as I’m trying to look at something or read the information card, been crowded, jostled or used as an unofficial tripod. People were really noticing each other and giving space. With a nice mix of displayed garments, beautiful beadwork, fascinating materials and structural styles, gorgeous back drops, with some photos and short films in just a few rooms, it was a great exhibition to sari design and styles. If you had time you could even get styled in one! (I was on a rush tour — thanks trains!)

Two culturally meaningful saris. One celebrates Tamil culture and heritage including a sash in the Tamil language.
Fabulously deep sunflower yellow (ochre) sari with gold and pink embellishments and ready for cricket. It was specifically designed to allow women to move and play successful cricket in. A cricket bat is held as a proud accessory.
I love this! Pearl collar and blouse with the floofiest skirt in a creamy blush. Super glamourous and very delicate.
Sequinned style in broad layered stripes of bronze and black sequins. Bold and striking design.
Tremendous glamour with metallics coming into play and complex wrapped and knotted draping, utlising sophisticated beadwork, sequins and layers of delicate chainwork in blushes, golds and bronzes.
Sari inspired sneaker designs nestle amongst a range of modern sari designs
Another of my favourites. Think 1970s or perhaps the ‘00’s. Halter neck bra top and draped skirts in black with a shimmering polka dot pattern, matched by larger sequins. It’s very contemporary but also very beautiful as it incorporates multiple layers of soft draping.
A whole vista of saris including a beautiful Chrysanthemum yellow one, a floofy white/blush one with amazing draping, two complex gold ones with ornate twisted drapings and beadwork, and one with full-on sequins and pointed cape-like sleeves going straight to the floor. Amazing! Plus the one that went to the Met and is sari meets Thierry Mugler
Shocking Barbie pink sari used in ‘pink sari’ protests to fight for women’s rights and against domestic violence. Next to it is a colourful patterned sari topped by a bird hat — used in a protest for ecological justice.

@ Images are from The Design Museum exhibition, The Off-beat Sari and while not the author’s own, used purely to illustrate the author’s enthusiasm for this fantastic exhibition

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Susan Tailby

By Susan Tailby. Appreciator of arts and culture; things I've seen and enjoyed and you might too! Reviews all my own opinion....Theatre, Movies, Dance & Art!