The Red Dress

embroidered red dress
The Red Dress – project created by British Artist, Kirstie Macleod

The Fashion and Textile Museum in London is currently holding an exhibition charting 150 years of the Royal School of Needlework. It is very well thought out exhibition looking at how the school became established and why, as well as showcasing work undertaken by its students and staff. One of the highlights for me though was in the section on collaborations and in particular The Red Dress Project. I had known about this project before I visited the exhibition and seen images online, but such is the detail it really needs to be seen in real life, if possible.

Back of the Red Dress

The project was initially conceived by British artist, Kirstie Macleod who wanted women across the globe to tell their stories (many relating to being marginalized, or living in poverty) through the common language of stitch.

Close up of the back of the bodice

The work has now been completed by 343 embroiderers (not just female) from 46 countries – and a film accompanying the dress when I saw it on display showed some of the work in progress while it was at the Royal School of Needlework. It was interesting to hear why people chose certain emblems – and it creates many more layers of meaning to what is an already fascinating object.

Side view of dress

The dress has already been viewed in a number of venues across the world but it is hoped that eventually the finished work will visit everyone who took part in the project. It also continues to have an online presence.

Another view of the Red Dress

If you can, try and see the work in real life – it will be on display at the Fashion and Textile Museum in London until 4 September 2022. If not then have a look at the project’s Red Dress website or follow @TheRedDress.

Edge detail

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