Celebrating the personal style of Frida Kahlo
Dark braids, bursts of bright flowers, eclectic jewellery, traditional embroidery, painted lips and monobrow, Frida Kahlo is not only a feminist icon, but a fashion touchstone. Her meticulously cultivated look was not frivolous, but a tapestry of reference points and allusions that rendered her outfits highly symbolic – her Tehuana dresses as manifestations of traditional Mexican femininity, her long skirts concealing her eventual prothesis.
Frida's clothes were hidden away by her husband Diego Rivera after she died at the age of 47 in 1954, and they remained that way until they were unearthed in 2004. Now, as the contents of Frida Kahlo's wardrobe leave Mexico for the first time to be showcased in London, we track the wonderful ways in which she used clothes and cosmetics to transcend ideals and cultiavate her identity.
The earrings that hung from her lobes were captivating, impossibly strange, and often beautiful. Her favourite pair was said to be the jaunty, flesh-coloured hands given to her by her good friend Pablo Picasso (pictured above centre). The same pair appear in her painting Self Portrait, Dedicated to Dr Eloesser, completed in 1940.
Many of her necklaces were comprised of rough-cut beads and stones, alluding to traditional Pre-Columbian jewellery. These were not considered to be fashionable during her life time, but were in line with Frida's consistent championing of cultural preservation and a celebration of heritage.