(Performer at ART DUBAI)
DUBAI | 2009

SECTION OF DRESS: Stitches during installation performance

Counting the minutes inside the cube.

Kirstie was commissioned to create a piece of work for Art Dubai in 2009 and given a budget form the British Council.

With a fascination of different cultures (having grown up in various far flung countries all over the world) Kirstie had a desire to create a piece of work that would unite and bring together as many different identities as possible - without borders and prejudice - to create a platform in which women could express, feel empowered and be heard. Using a dress seemed appropriate as it is such a potent symbol of femininity, and so the Red Dress was born.

In it’s first iteration for Art Dubai there were stipulations to the shape and cut of the dress in light of Sharia law within the UAE, the dress also needed to be worn by a performer, so Kirstie was free to talk to the audience.

Sara divides her time between Dubai and the UK and enjoyed wearing the Red Dress at Art Dubai. She sat for 3 hours calmly embroidering on to the fabric, the resulting yellow stitches a lasting record of the installation many years ago.

(The Red Dress has been reassembled 3 times since 2009 – the shape and cut modified in design and to accommodate all the new embroidery. The final configuration was set in 2019).


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.

The Red Dress is one of the most power pieces of clothing I have ever seen
Angelica Colleluci, Head of Design & Productions at Ozwald Boateng
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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