She was one of the most recognised and significant artists and women of the 20th century: Frida Kahlo (1907 – 1954). She was a unique modern art painter who didn’t fit in any category. “They thought I was a Surrealist, but I wasn’t. I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality”, she once said.
Frida Kahlo is also a fashion icon. She fashioned her identity. She loved to wear colourful Tehuana dresses, pre-Columbian necklaces and flowers in her hair. If you want to discover who Frida Kahlo was, visit the new exhibition Frida Kahlo: Making HerSelf Up at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London (16 June – 4 November 2018). It will be the first exhibition outside of Mexico to display her clothes and intimate possessions, combining them with key self-portraits and photographs. Some of the objects have never been exhibited before.
FRIDA KAHLO FASHION EXHIBITION LONDON
The exhibition will display more than 200 objects from the Blue House (Casa Azúl), Frida Kahlo’s house in Mexico City. Her personal items including outfits, letters, jewellery, cosmetics, medicines and medical corsets were discovered in 2004, 50 years after being sealed in the Blue House by her husband Diego Rivera, the Mexican muralist, following her death in 1954.
Not only fashionistas will love to explore Frida Kahlo’s highly choreographed appearance and style. The exhibition showcases 22 distinctive colourful Tehuana garments, pre-Columbian necklaces that Frida strung herself, hand painted corsets and prosthetics as well as film and photography of the artist as a visual narrative of her life.
Frida Kahlo on a bench, carbon print, 1938, photo by Nickolas Muray © The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection of 20th Century Mexican Art and The Verge
Make-up and hairstyling were very important for the Mexican artist. Her bushy eyebrows and her red lips were a distinctive feature. The exhibition displays Kahlo’s eyebrow pencil Ebony, still within its original packaging, which she used to emphasise her signature mono brow, a defining feature of her self-portraits, as well as red nail varnish and Revlon’s Everything’s Rosy, her favourite lipstick.
Frida Kahlo with Olmec figurine, 1939. Photograph Nickolas Muray. © Nickolas Muray Photo Archives
Her corsets, which she decorated and painted herself, are particularly interesting. She made them appear as though she had explicitly chosen to wear them. “She included them in her art and in the construction of her style as an essential wardrobe item, almost as a second skin,” says Circe Henestrosa, Head of the School of Fashion, LASALLE College of the Arts, Singapore and exhibition co-curator.
Prosthetic leg with leather boot. Appliquéd silk with embroidered Chinese motifs. Photograph Javier Hinojosa. Museo Frida Kahlo. © Diego Riviera and Frida Kahlo Archives
More infos on the exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London
VIDEO: A TOUR OF FRIDA KAHLO’S HOUSE AND WARDROBE
FRIDA KAHLO’S BLUE HOUSE IN MEXICO CITY