One Embroidered Red Dress Is Made by 343 Artists From the Around the World Over the Course of 13 Years

The Red Dress Project

A 13-year project has finally come to a close, culminating in a stunning garment unlike any other. The Red Dress is a project conceived by British artist Kirstie Macleod that explores identity, culture, and tradition through textiles and embroidery. After passing through the hands of 343 embroiders across 46 countries, the final piece was assembled into a lovingly made and intricately designed floor-length gown.

Featuring a fitted bodice with buttons, long sleeves, and a full skirt with an eye-catching train, this frock is visually stunning to behold. It is made from 84 pieces of burgundy silk dupion, all of which was hand-embroidered by artists around the globe, in countries like South Africa, Mexico, Egypt, Kenya, Japan, Turkey, and beyond. “The artisans were encouraged to create a work that expressed their own identities whilst adding their own cultural and traditional experience,” it says on the website. Their designs are inspired by their own life stories and experiences. Among the artists are refugees who escaped war, artisans who are carrying on age-old traditions, and first-time embroiderers who are learning the art.

All but seven of the contributors to this project were women, and 136 of the 343 participants were commissioned for their work and received a portion of the profits from the exhibitions; the rest volunteered to work on the project. “Initially the project sought to generate a dialogue of identity through embroidery, merging diverse cultures, with no borders,” the project states. “However, over the 13 years, the dress has also become a platform for self-expression and an opportunity for voices to be amplified and heard.” The finished garment was worn by several of the artists who helped create the piece, bringing an added sense of completion to the project.

The Red Dress is currently on tour and will be on display at Cairo Institute for Liberal Arts and Sciences and British Embassy in Cairo from September 17–27, 2022, and at the Melville Center for the Arts in Wales from October 8–9, 2022. To learn more about the locations and dates of all exhibitions of The Red Dress, visit the project's website.

The Red Dress project explores identity, culture, and tradition through embroidery.

The Red Dress ProjectThe Red Dress Project

Conceived by British artist Kirstie Macleod, artists from around the world contributed their skills to creating one red dress together.

The Red Dress ProjectThe Red Dress Project

Embroiderers from around the world and of different skill levels added their touch to this intricate garment.

The Red Dress ProjectThe Red Dress Project

It was worked on for a total of 13 years, traveling the world from 2009 and 2022.

The Red Dress ProjectThe Red Dress Project

Now, the completed and fully assembled Red Dress is going on tour to be displayed at galleries and museums across the globe.

The Red Dress ProjectThe Red Dress ProjectThe Red Dress ProjectThe Red Dress ProjectThe Red Dress ProjectThe Red Dress ProjectThe Red Dress ProjectThe Red Dress ProjectThe Red Dress ProjectThe Red Dress Project

 

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My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by The Red Dress.

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Margherita Cole

Margherita Cole is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and illustrator based in Southern California. She holds a BA in Art History with a minor in Studio Art from Wofford College, and an MA in Illustration: Authorial Practice from Falmouth University in the UK. When she’s not writing, Margherita continues to develop her creative practice in sequential art.
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