Nair Woman

Lady with Veena

Mother and Child

There Comes Papa, 1893

Malayalee Woman


Lady Juggler

Radha Madhavam, 1890

Lady at Ball Game

Ahalya Indravalokan

Lady Holding a Fruit


Fresh from Bath


Gypsies, 1893

Galaxy of Musicians

Woman with Veena

Portrait of a Lady, 1893

Yasoda Adorning Krishna

Ganga and Shantanu, 1890

Maharani Chimanbai

Ganga Avataran, 1910


ALASHO : WEST AFRICA |  An indigenous Hausa long turban, worn across the head and neck. It is near identical in length, colour and dimensions to that of the Tuareg tagelmust, but is wrapped differently to the Tuareg method, leaving the sides of the head and some of the lower neck free.

PAGRI : INDIA | Usually a long plain unstitched cloth. The length may vary according to the type. The cloth indicates the region and the community of the wearer.

PESHAWARI PAGRI : PAKISTAN | Usually a long plain unstitched cloth. The length may vary according to the type. The cloth indicates the region and the community of the wearer.

KEFFIYEH : MIDDLE EAST | A traditional Middle Eastern headdress fashioned from a square scarf, usually made of cotton. It is typically worn by Arabs, as well as by some Jews and Kurds. It is commonly found in arid regions as it provides protection from sunburn, dust and sand. Its distinctive standard woven checkered pattern may have originated in an ancient Mesopotamian representation of either fishing nets or ears of grain, but the true origin of the pattern remains unknown.

HAIK : MOROCCO | A simple, traditional outdoor costume of Moroccan townswomen, worn at the turn of the twentieth century, made of either fine white or coarse lumpy wool, a mixture of silk and wool, or simply cotton. Haik are white, with the exception of the black haik of Taroudant, and measure about 5 by 1.6 meters. The haik drapes the woman from head to foot with only the eyes showing.

CHADOR : AFGHANISTAN & IRAN | A full-body-length semicircle of fabric that is open down the front. This cloth is tossed over the woman's or girl's head, but then she holds it closed in the front. The chador has no hand openings, or any buttons, clasps, etc., but rather it is held closed by her hands or tucked under the wearer's arms. Before the 1978–79 Iranian Revolution, black chadors were reserved for funerals and periods of mourning. Light, printed fabrics were the norm for everyday wear. Currently, the majority of Iranian women who wear the chador use the black version outside and reserve light-coloured chadors for indoor use.

DUPATTA : SOUTH ASIA | Alternative names include chādar-orni/orna, chunri, chunni and pacheri. A long, multi-purpose scarf that is essential to many South Asian women's suits and matches the woman's garments. The dupatta is most commonly used with shalwar kameez and the kurta, but is also worn over the choli or gharara. The dupatta has long been a symbol of modesty in South Asian dress. Originally, it was worn as a symbol of modesty. While that symbolism still continues, many today wear it as just a decorative accessory. There is no single way of wearing the dupatta, and as time evolves and fashion modernizes, the style of the dupatta has also evolved.

GAUNG BAUNG : BURMA | A traditional Burmese turban and part of the traditional attire of many ethnic groups inhabiting modern day Burma and Northern Thailand, particularly among most of the Buddhist-professing ethnic groups: the Bamar, Mon, Rakhine, Shan, and Tai Yuan peoples. The design varies from region to region, but share basic similarities that distinguish it from the turban. Gaung baung literally means "head wrap" in the Burmese language. It is part of traditional ceremonial attire, worn at formal gatherings and ceremonies. It is almost always a sign of rank, though no insignia or pattern exists to denote it. The gaung baung is more prevalent among the Arakanese and Shan ethnic groups.

BANDANA : WORLDWIDE | A type of large, usually colourful, kerchief, usually worn on the head or around the neck. Bandanas are frequently printed in a paisley pattern and are most often used to hold hair back, either as a fashionable head accessory, or for practical purposes. Originated in India as bright coloured handkerchiefs of silk and cotton with spots in white on coloured grounds, chiefly red and blue. The term, at present, generally means a fabric in printed styles. 

SCARF : WORLDWIDE | Also known as a Kremer, muffler or neck-wrap, it is a piece of fabric worn around the neck, near the head or around the waist for warmth, cleanliness, fashion, or religious reasons. 

SHAWL : INDIA | A simple item of clothing, loosely worn over the shoulders, upper body and arms, and sometimes also over the head. It is usually a rectangular or square piece of cloth, that is often folded to make a triangle but can also be triangular in shape. Other shapes include oblong shawls.

REBOZO : MEXICO & NICARAGUA | A long flat garment used mostly by women in Mexico. It can be worn in various ways, usually folded or wrapped around the head and/or upper body to shade from the sun, provide warmth and as an accessory to an outfit. It is also used to carry babies and large bundles, especially among indigenous women. The origin of the garment is unclear, but most likely derived in the early colonial period, as traditional versions of the garment show indigenous, European and Asian influences. 

Traditional rebozos are handwoven from cotton, wool, silk and rayon in various lengths but all have some kind of pattern (usually from the ikat method of dying) and have fringe, which can be finger weaved into complicated designs. The garment is considered to be part of Mexican identity and nearly all Mexican women own at least one.

FOUTA : TUNISIA | A piece of thin patterned cotton or linen fabric used in many Mediterranean countries, originally Tunisian. Among other uses, they were worn, by both men and women, wrapped around the body while at the public baths in 19th-century Syria. In Algeria, conservative women wore the fouta draped over their sarouel garment. Similarly, in some parts of southern Saudi Arabia, men would wear the fouta as a loincloth beneath their thawb robes, or just by itself while relaxing at home. Foutas are widely used today in the occidental world as Turkish bath towels (hammam towels) or even beach towels.

CHAMANTO : CHILE | A traditional decorative garment from central Chile, similar to a poncho and woven in silk thread and wool. Its entire contour is finished with ribbon edging. The difference between a chamanto and other ponchos is their reversibility, as both sides — one light, one dark — are fully finished. Traditionally, the dark side of the poncho is used during the day, while its light side is mostly worn at night.

SHUKA : SOUTHERN KENYA & NORTHERN TANZANIA | The Maa word for sheets traditionally worn wrapped around the body. These are typically red, though with some other colours (e.g. blue) and patterns (e.g. plaid). Pink, even with flowers, is not shunned by warriors. One piece garments known as kanga, a Swahili term, are common too. 

SULU : SAMOIA, AMERICAN SAMOA, TONGA, PARTS OF MELANESIA & MICRONESIA | Secured around the waist by an overhand knotting of the upper corners of the cloth; women often tuck the loose ends into the waistband, while men usually allow them to hang in front. Women generally wear them ankle-length while men's wraps often extend to the knee or mid-calf depending on the activity or occasion.

PAREO : COOK ISLANDS & TAHITI | The Tahitian pāreu are among the most colourful and bright of the Pacific. Originally flower patterns, the hibiscus flowers in particular, or traditional tapa patterns, were printed in bright colours on a cotton sheet.  Women will usually wrap it around their upper body, covering it from breasts to above the knees. In more traditional surroundings the covering of the upper body is less important, but the covering of the thighs is, making it a longer skirt. Men wear it as a short skirt, or may even make shorts out of it, especially when fishing or working in the bush where freedom of movement of the legs is needed. But during quiet, cooler nights at home, they may wear it as a long skirt too.

HAKU PATASI : NEPAL | Women wear black cotton saris with a red border known as hāku patāsi or hāku parsi. It is still widely used especially among farmer women as everyday wear and is the most popular dress during festive occasions. A blouse fastened with cloth ties called misālan is worn with the sari. A shawl is wrapped around the upper part of the body.

SINH : CAMBODIA, LAOS & THAILAND | A traditional garment worn by Lao and Thai women, particularly northern Thai and northeastern Thai women. It is a tube skirt which can identify the woman who wears it in a variety of ways. In particular, it can indicate which region the wearer is from. In present-day Thailand, sinhs are typically worn at special events. However, in Laos sinhs are worn more regularly in daily life.

GUNTIINO : SOMALIA | During day-to-day activities, women usually wear the guntiino, a long stretch of cloth tied over the shoulder and draped around the waist. The guntiino is traditionally made out of plain white fabric sometimes featuring with decorative borders, although nowadays alindi, a textile common in the Horn region and some parts of North Africa, is more frequently used. The garment can be worn in many different styles and with different fabrics.

TA’OVALA : TONGA | A mat wrapped around the waist, worn by men and women, at all formal occasions, much like the tie for men in the European and North American culture. The ta'ovala is also commonly seen among the Fijian Lau Islands, a region once heavily influenced by Tongan hegemony and cultural diffusion.

LONGYI : BURMA | A sheet of cloth widely worn in Burma. It is approximately 2 metres (6.6 ft) long and 80 centimetres (2.6 ft) wide and often sewn into a cylindrical shape. It is worn around the waist, running to the feet. It is held in place by folding fabric over without a knot. It is also sometimes folded up to the knee for comfort.

TAPA : PACIFIC ISLANDS | This barkcloth can be decorated by rubbing, stamping, stencilling, smoking or dyeing. The patterns of Tongan, Samoan, and Fijian tapa usually form a grid of squares, each of which contains geometric patterns with repeated motifs such as fish and plants, for example four stylised leaves forming a diagonal cross. Traditional dyes are usually black and rust-brown, although other colours are known. 

LAMBA : MADAGASCAR | A traditional garment worn by both men and women in Madagascar. The textile, highly emblematic of Malagasy culture, consists of a rectangular length of cloth wrapped around the body. Traditional lambas used for burial were often made of silk and cow hides while those for daily wear were more often made of raffia pig skin, cotton or bast. 

DHOTI : INDIA | Also known as vesti, dhuti, mardani, dhoteé, lacha, dhotra, and pancha, it is a traditional men's garment, worn in the Indian Subcontinent mainly by Indian, Nepalese and Bangladeshi people. It is a rectangular piece of unstitched cloth, usually around 4.5 metres (15 ft) long, wrapped around the waist and the legs and knotted at the waist.

BELTED PLAID : HIGHLANDS & ISLES OF SCOTLAND | A large blanket-like piece of fabric wrapped around the body with the material pleated or, more accurately, loosely gathered and secured at the waist by means of a belt. Typically, a portion of the belted plaid hangs down to about the knees (for men) or ankles (for women) with the rest of the material being wrapped up around the upper body in a variety of ways and pinned or otherwise secured to keep it in place.

CAPULANA : MOZAMBIQUE | A type of a sarong worn primarily in Mozambique but also in other areas of south-eastern Africa. It is a length of material about 2 metres by 1 metre. It can either be used as a wrap-around skirt, dress or can become a baby carrier on the back. It is considered a complete piece of clothing.

OSARIYA : SRI LANKA | Sri Lankan women wear saris in many styles. Two ways of draping the sari are popular and tend to dominate: the Indian style (classic nivi drape) and the Kandyan style (or osaria in Sinhalese). The Kandyan style is generally more popular in the hill country region of Kandy from which the style gets its name. Though local preferences play a role, most women decide on style depending on personal preference or what is perceived to be most flattering for their figure. The Kandyan style is considered the national dress of Sinhalese women.

SARONG : SOUTH & S E ASIA, ARABIAN PENINSULA, THE HORN OF AFRICA & MANY PACIFIC ISLANDS | Denotes the lower garment worn by the Indonesian (and other Maritime Southeast Asian) men. This consists of a length of fabric about a yard (0.91 m) wide and two-and-a-half yards (2.3 m) long. In the center of this sheet, across the narrower width, a panel of contrasting colour or pattern about one foot wide is woven or dyed into the fabric, which is known as the kepala or "head" of the sarong.

Gaon Hamara Shehar Tumahara (1972)

Raj Babbar shooting with Rekha

Ijaazat (1987)

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Khoobsurat (1980)

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In advertisements for sari brands

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Silsila (1981)

Filmfare South Awards (2013)

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In Filmfare Magazine (2014) 

Parineeta (2005)

Balenciaga evening ensemble, 1965 | Balenciaga sari dress, 1964

Balenciaga gold Sari dress, 1964 | Barbara Cailleux in Balmain's sari-inspired evening gown from his S/S 1957 | Model in Balmain's silk sari-inspired dress, 1957

Pierre Balmain’s Le Sari, 1948

L-R: Josephine Baker, 1930s | Audrey Hepburn in Givenchy shot by Howell Conant, 1962

Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly in the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), costumes designed by Givenchy

Mainbocher Evening Dress, 1948 | Mainbocher Evening Apron, 1930-39

Jacqueline Kennedy wears Valentino in Cambodia, 1967 | Princess Diana wears Catherine Walker in Thailand, 1988

Raquel Zimmermann shot by Steven Meisel for W Magazine September 2011

Chanel A/W 2009 | Chanel Spring Couture 2010

Chanel Pre-Fall 2012

Alexander McQueen A/W 2008

Dries Van Noten S/S 2010

Tibi S/S 2017

Hermès S/S 2008

Elsa Schiaparelli, Vogue June 1935

Marchesa S/S 2013