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.
Frida nurtured the vivid-blue walled garden at her home, the Casa Azul in Coyoacán, filling it with native agave, cacti, prickly pear, orange and apricot trees, quince and pomegranate as well as beautiful flowers. It is believed that for Kahlo, the floral crowns that so often adorned her head symbolised Mexican naturalism and tradition, as well as her own vulnerability. Indeed, Kahlo once told Spanish artist Josep Bartolí that, 'Fruits are like flowers – they speak to us in provocative language and teach us things that are hidden.'