Lekazia Turner, embroiderer from Jamaica, 2022


Kirstie has worked as an artist for 20 years, and on the Red Dress for the last 15. 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. 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 formed a diverse portfolio comprising photography, film, painting, drawing and high impact installations involving garments.

Embroidery soon became a focus. Kirstie was inspired by its diversity and potential for expression, communication (or subversion) and as she studied further by its history and practice throughout the world - as an art form, in daily life and the meditative and healing effects experienced through its creation. A significant point came in 2002 whilst Kirstie was travelling in southern India and spent many hours stitching and embroidering alongside Karnatakan women creating a simple jacket. Although unable to communicate to each other in words they shared a 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 inspired its creation).

The Red Dress began in 2009 as an investigation into identity, and 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.

As the world continues to rebuild after the pandemic, and is still subjected to war, oppression, inequality and extreme poverty 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 with compassion and humility we can uplift and support one another and hopefully build a better world for the next generation.

Kirstie is able to offer events and presentations with/without the Red Dress tailored to your group/community. Please email her for more info on: reddressembroidery@gmail.com


Kirstie has recently been elected as an Ambassador for the Textile Society “for her sustained commitment to The Red Dress as a global community project, the outcome of which has become an icon of contemporary world textiles”.

The Textile Society is a  unique community and brilliant resource for all textile professionals and enthusiasts around the world. Please see:https://www.textilesociety.org.uk/ for more info.


To view a selection of Kirstie’s own textile based 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 441 individuals around the world via 2 Crowdfunding campaigns in 2020 and 2022.

Nothing expresses more eloquently the feelings I suspect we share about the importance of embroidery in our lives, and the support we derive from the friendships made through stitch, than Kirstie Macleod’s Red Dress.
Caroline Zoob, Editor of Stitchers Journal 2022
This beautiful object highlights the common ground between individuals, bringing together different identities and uniting people, we are honoured to contribute to it.
Tiny Kox, PACE President at the Council of Europe, Strasbourg 2023
The Red Dress has become an icon of the international textile world.
Suzanne Smith, Textile Society 2022
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
...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 they created the embroideries.
Nicole Esselan, Founder of Kisany Africa, supporting artisans in DR CONGO and RWANDA who created embroidery on the Red Dress in 2018
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
follow @thereddress