There's a great story to go with the outfits. Frida Kahlo was married to Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. When she died in 1954 he hid her possessions in a bathroom in their famous home, La Casa Azul, in Mexico City. He instructed that the door should not be opened until 15 years after his own death, which came in 1957.
But in fact, Kahlo's personal effects lay undisturbed until 2004, when they were uncovered and restored. They went on display in Mexico City to great interest.
Now, for the first time, they come to London. You'll be able to see the artists' dresses, shoes, jewellery and prosthetics, alongside her letters, photos and some of her paintings, including My Dress Hangs There (1933) a fitting accompaniment to the objects in the exhibition.
The last major Frida Kahlo exhibition in London was in 2015. It consisted of photographs of her possessions by Ishiuchi Miyako. Why, you might well ask, does a female artist's clothing get put into the spotlight, and not her actual work?
The answer has many parts: with her proficiency in self-portraiture, Kahlo was the subject of her own art. The majority of her works were imaginative self-portraits, in which she often wears traditional Mexican dress. Clothing is an important part of understanding her work.
The second reason is because her clothing was part of her art. She decorated her casts and corsets. She designed her own prosthetic leg, with a red lace up boot and bell attached. These objects, adapted to suit the whims of her illnesses and the fire of her blazing imagination, are testaments to both her artistic and personal life.
Lastly, because Frida Kahlo has suffered many resurrections since her death. She has been rewritten by recent history – first as a feminist icon, and then as a fashion touchstone. This exhibition won't just show the Frida who once lived, but the Frida who lives on in the public imagination.
Those floral headbands you wore at last year's festivals have their roots in those floral headbands that crowned her image in her portraits. Referencing Kahlo has become an Instagram sport and you can expect crowds of devotees at her exhibition.
But this exhibition isn't just a nosey glance into the closet of a style icon. Neither is Kahlo's life story a fashionable fairy tale. Disabled by polio as a child, a traffic accident when she was 18 condemned Kahlo to a lifetime of chronic pain and ailments. She became a painter in her sickbed. She married Rivera after meeting him through the Communist Party, and they had a tumultuous and infidelity-ridden relationship until her death. She died tragically young, aged just 47. Her possessions tell the story of a life lived in pain, from her cigarette case to her long skirts (to hide her deformed leg) and her corsets.
This exhibition is a shrine to her memory – to the great artist she once was, and to the inspiration she is now – on and off the Pinterest boards. Booking isn't open just yet; watch this space for announcements.
|What||Frida Kahlo's wardrobe, V&A|
South Kensington, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 2RL | MAP
|Nearest tube||South Kensington (underground)|
16 Jun 18 – 04 Nov 18, Times TBC
|Website||Click here for more information|