Kirstie has worked as a Textile artist for 16 years, and on the Red Dress for the last 12. What began as a sketch on the back of a napkin in 2009, has grown into a global collaborative project involving hundreds of people all over the world.

Growing up in various far-flung countries Kirstie’s former years were saturated with contrasting culture, colour, language and experience. Trying to make sense of her journey whilst beginning to form her own sense of identity she immersed herself in drawing, painting and sewing.

Textiles were always present growing up; the women of Kirstie’s family all skilled stitchers, knitters and makers so it was only a matter a time before she herself picked up a needle and thread. At 9 years old, whilst living in Lagos, Nigeria she was taught to embroider by a warm-hearted Indian lady and something clicked. Kirstie later gained a BA in Textile Design followed by an MA in Visual Language & Performance before beginning her career as Fine Artist living in London. The works form a diverse portfolio comprising embroidery, photography, film, painting, drawing and installation.

Embroidery soon became a focus, Kirstie was hugely inspired by its diversity and potential as a means of expression, communication (or subversion) and as she studied further by its history and practice throughout the world both as an art form and in daily life, and the repetitive, meditative, and healing effects experienced through its creation. A significant point came in 2002 whilst travelling in southern India, where Kirstie spent many hours stitching and embroidering alongside Karnatakan gypsy women creating a simple jacket. They were not able to communicate to each other in words but shared that time of connection through the mutual act of stitching. (A few embroideries collected during this trip can be seen on the Red Dress as an honouring of the seeds that led to its own creation).

The Red Dress began in 2009 as an investigation into identity, with a desire to connect with women from the around without borders and boundaries. As the years unfolded so too did the potential of the garment to become a vehicle for expression and a platform for voices to be heard. The Red Dress has managed to access disparate communities worldwide, allowing connection and conversation between individuals who may never meet in person.

At this time, as the world rebuilds after the pandemic, the garments message seems even more important. What we can achieve working together in community and collaboration is far more impactful than trying to work alone. In taking down the many boundaries and borders and coming together in service, with compassion and humility we can uplift and support one another and hopefully build a better world for the next generation.

Kirstie now lives in rural Somerset with her partner and children, balancing a simple life aligned with nature, yoga and meditation alongside the privilege of guiding the Red Dress as she begins a new chapter of exhibitions all over the world.

To view a selection of Kirstie’s art please see the website: www.kirstiemacleod.co.uk


A huge thank you to all who have given their time, energy, enthusiasm, advice, experience and financial support to the Red Dress project over the years.

In addition to the institutions below, funding has been gratefully received from a number of private donations and 344 individuals around the world via a Crowdfunded campaign in 2020.

The Red Dress in its final incarnation, a magnificent, regal robe, symbolises the empowerment of women through the creation of something beautiful, something which began with bowed heads and tired fingers but also with faith and joy, an openness and willingness to be a part of something which they could not see at that time but in which they could believe had meaning and worth connecting with other women around the world
Lady Alison Myners, Chair of the Royal Academy Trust 2020
The Red Dress is in some respects similar to Mail Art, the populist artistic movement centred on sending small scale works through the postal service. It initially developed out of the Fluxus movement in the 1950s and 60s – but on a larger scale – the journey of the work is part of its identity, process, and in fact function. A signifier of the temporal and physical nature of the process inherent in the creation of the piece. The surface of the dress layered with embroidery slowly transforming into a specific topographical map – completely particular to the work’s journey – and reflective of the burgeoning sculptural landscape of the object
Paul Black, Artlyst 2015
It’s her (Kirstie’s) red silk Dupion bodice and voluminous skirt created for the Red Dress that fully demonstrates her commitment to embroidery and the immense respect for the international community of makers
Denna Jones. Embroidery Magazine 2010
I can't remember when they embroidered that piece of silk (2018?) but I feel that something has changed since. The fact that they could embroider what they wanted and that it is appreciated has given them some strength, some confidence that I didn’t feel so strongly before. Last year, I sent them a drawing and asked them to “interpretate" it the way they wanted; again it came back with a lot of emotions, another beautiful story. Thank you for giving them this opportunity
Nicole Esselan, Founder of Kisany Africa (supporting artisans in DR CONGO and RWANDA)
This is both an extraordinary work of collective art and profound and eloquent social commentary. It is also an example of how potent the Attire language is capable of becoming
Attires Mind (Fashion Blogger) 2020
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