Lekazia Turner, embroiderer from Jamaica, 2022




The Red Dress is a large silk dress covered in ornate embroidery created in 50 different countries around the world. 374 artisans have stitched onto the dress over the last 13 years. 365 women / girls, 7 men / boys and 2 non-binary individuals.

The Red Dress project was created by British artist Kirstie Macleod, an artist now living in Somerset. She wanted to create a work that would bring together individual voices and stories from around the world without borders, boundaries or prejudice, to show what is possible when we collaborate and come together supporting one another.

The burgundy red silk is richly coloured and smooth with a slight shine to it. The embroideries have been created using hundreds of different coloured threads of varying thickness, some are loud others subtle, some are smooth while others are metallic and shiny.

Some of the embroideries include bright tropical flowers from South America, tribal figures of women in patterned clothing from Kenya, a large gold lotus created in Bombay stitched with tiny metal coils and crystals, geometric patterns from Afghanistan and a large spider’s web covering much of the back of the bodice from the UK.

The embroideries vary in size, shape and style. Each artisan was invited to create a motif that shared a part of their identity and culture. Some used designs specific to their family, village or town, while others told stories from their past. All commissioned artisans were paid for their work and receive a portion of the exhibition fees.

Many of the women who created the embroideries are living as refugees, recovering from war or experiencing extreme poverty. For these women the Red Dress can help share their stories with the world.

The Red Dress is now being exhibited around the world in many different museums, galleries and event spaces, so Kirstie can share the garment and it’s stories around the globe.


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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