Lekazia Turner, embroiderer from Jamaica, 2022


TURKEY / 2021



A motif from a powerful story.

Kirstie met Secil at an exhibition of the Red Dress at the Connect Centre in Wells, Somerset. Sitting alongside the garment, Secil stitched a small tulip motif on to a piece of red felt and handed it to me whilst explaining the fascinating story behind it - originating from her home in Edirne, Turkey. Please listen above.

Below is my researched account with the exact names and dates of the unique story.

In 1568 the Ottoman Sultan II commissioned Architect Mimar Sinan to create him a beautiful and unique masterpiece. At 90 years old, the Selimiye Mosque in Edirne was to be Sinan’s last creation and became one of the most important works of both Mimar Sinan and Ottoman architecture.

Inside the mosque there is an inverted tulip motif on one of the interior marble columns. According to the legend, there was a tulip garden on the plot where the mosque was built. The lady who owned the land did not initially want to sell it to the Sultan, but after many discussions she finally agreed as long as Sinan honour her by creating a tulip motif inside the mosque.

The architect Sinan did as she asked although made the tulip motif in reverse (upside down) due to her being so difficult!

Every year, the tulip is said to fall further and further down the column – and it is believed that when the tulip reaches the bottom of the column it will be the end of the world.

To contact Secil for commissions, please connect with Kirstie at reddressembroidery@gmail.com to put you in touch directly.


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
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