So we've talked about the legendary Frida Kahlo's pets (her monkeys, her dogs, her birds). Now let's take a moment to consider her wonderful wardrobe, and her enduring influence on fashion. As with everything in Kahlo's world, one is first drawn by its uniqueness, its vibrancy. But on closer inspection, the story is riddled with misery and pain; she suffered poliomyelitis aged 6, a bus accident aged 18.
Appearances can be deceiving: Frida Kahlo’s Wardrobe is the subject of the Frida Kahlo Museum (Casa de Azul, Kahlo's former home) in Mexico's current exhibition, showcasing over 300 of the artist's belongings (orthopaedic items, corsets that Kahlo wore to keep her damaged spine straight, traditional Mexican designs, her glorious accessories) on display for the first time since her death, alongside contemporary Kahlo-inspired designs courtesy of Jean Paul Gaultier, Rei Kawakubo for Comme des Garçons and Riccardo Tisci for Givenchy. “Frida’s style was eclectic. She liked to combine colours, textures and origins of her clothing, according to her mood. She also liked to design her clothing or modify it, add ruffles or brocades to skirts and blouses, giving a special touch to the garments”, explains the museum's director Hilda Trujillo.
"Frida’s style was eclectic. She liked to combine colours, textures and origins of her clothing, according to her mood"
Instead of wearing the latest designs from Europe, Kahlo would procure exotic fabrics from China, lace from Europe, and brightly coloured textiles from her native Mexico. She would then hand the materials to a seamstress, who would assemble Kahlo’s vision – a bold combination of pieces echoing the silhouettes of traditional Mexican clothing mixed in with Kahlo’s own inventive styling.
To celebrate, AnOther presents 10 Frida Facts…
1. Kahlo was born Magdalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo y Calderon. The name Frieda comes from the German word Friede, meaning peace. She dropped the 'e' in 1935.
2. Kahlo changed her birth year to 1910 in order to affiliate herself further with being a product of the Mexican Revolution, which began in 1910.
3. Kahlo was a Cancer, a star sign that can be attributed to loving, sensual, faithful yet over-reactive characteristics.
4. Kahlo was one of the only female students at the National Preparatory School where she surrounded herself with bright intellectuals who piqued her interest in politics.
5. Kahlo's marriage to Diego Rivera was often referred to as a union between a dove and an elephant. Rivera was overweight and Kahlo was small and slender.
6. Kahlo found unibrows and moustaches attractive, and always made them a focus point in her self-portraits.
7. Andre Breton once said, "The art of Frida Kahlo is a ribbon around a bomb." Kahlo would undergo approximately 30 operations in her lifetime.
8. Kahlo is known as "la heroina del dolor" (the heroine of pain) in Mexico.
9. The U.S. Postal Service issued a stamp in June 2001 to honor Kahlo.
10. The exhibition includes an earring that was a gift from Pablo Picasso and was featured in a painting from 1940. The other earring has never been found.
Appearances can be deceiving: Frida Kahlo’s Wardrobe is at the Frida Kahlo Museum until November 2013.
Upload your favourite Frida picture on twitter, facebook or instagram @anothermagazine #favouritefrida and we'll choose our favourite.
Text by Laura Bradley