All across the world, lies a plethora of rich design heritage, some of it tapped and some not quite. Even if one were to set out to discover it all, it would take years, if not decades, to fully capture the beauty of these different and distinct design forms around the world, all of them a testimony to the rich culture of these various places. However, one such project that comes close is Kirstie Macleod's 'The Red Dress Project', a global embroidery exploration that has travelled across the world for an entire decade!
Continue reading to find out all about 'the dress' and all that has gone in its making in the last 10 years.
Initiated in 2009, the project's thought was to capture the beauty of distinct embroideries, connecting craftspeople through a common canvas. It was funded by the British Council and so began its journey. Post a decade, it has travelled across 28 countries where over a hundred artisans have worked on it, each leaving an imprint of their work. From intricately done floral motifs to playful, vibrant tones and messages, the red silk dress is truly a story told on a global scale, comprising millions of stitches.
"The dress is without prejudice, without boundaries, without borders and it's this idea of uniting people from different walks of life. It's about putting the artisans and the creators of this dress, centre stage," says Macleod on her Instagram. Started with a handful of students at the Royal School of Needlework in the UK, the flowing dress now features works of commissioned artists, all of them independently embroidering to showcase their skill. Further, as Macleod elaborates in one of her posts, all the work is rightly paid for, meaning it's an ethical exchange that uplifts artisans without eliminating the basic (though often ignored) nature of art.
Peru, Mexico, Sinai, Czech Republic, Tobago, Russia, Australia, Pakistan, India & Sri Lanka are some of the many countries where the dress has been, additionally showcased in museums and exhibits across the world as well, a dedicated Instagram account charting its world travels. Take a look at the detailed pictures below.
The expert artisans behind the red silk garment are as diverse as the dress itself. Embroiderers, as Kirstie Macleod details on the Instagram account, include refugees, survivors of wars, designers and working women in remote parts of the world.
"Initially the work sought to generate a dialogue of identity through embroidery, and a merging of cultural boundaries and borders - but over the years with the collected stories of all involved the dress has come to represent much more. It has managed to travel and access disparate communities worldwide, getting directly into the skilled hands of vulnerable people, victims of war and oppression who are often not given a voice, and who are not easily able to earn a living," she says. With a documentary on the women behind it being crowdfunded currently, the artist aims to highlight the expertise and impeccable, unparalleled work.
If there is a breathtaking work of art with a beautiful thought behind it, it's this!
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Featured Image: Instagram