Frida Kahlo’s Wardrobe unlocked and on display after nearly 60 years

By

8th Jan, 2013

20130108-133745.jpg

When she died, her husband Diego Rivera ordered her clothes be locked up for 15 years. When Diego passed three years later, a philanthropist, art collector and old friend of the couple, Dolores Olmedo became the manager of their houses. She kept all of Kahlo’s belongings secretly guarded under lock and key for decades until she too passed away in 2004 and the fashion time capsule of an icon; a treasure chest, was finally unlocked.

20130108-133932.jpg

Defiantly beautiful, tenacious, and veracious, Frida Kahlo was and still is one of the most revolutionary and influential women in modern culture. The Mexican artist, known for her surreal self-portraits, emblematic of her indigenous Mexican culture, her great love for her husband and her tragic disability, are still celebrated in exhibitions and retrospectives around the world.

20130108-134038.jpg

The latest exhibition however is not about her paintings, but her legendary wardrobe, which has been equally revolutionary and influential to modern culture. And just like her paintings, her personal style was surreal and emblematic of her indigenous roots, her love for her husband and her tragic disability. For the first time ever, Frida Kahlo’s closet is on display at her museum and former home, La Casa Azul in Mexico City.

YouTube Preview Image

The intimate exhibition will feature 300 different items of clothing, headpieces, jewellery and corsetry. Many of the clothes which were locked up in trunks and wardrobes for so long still carry the scent of the late artist’s perfume and cigarette smoke or stains from painting. Entitled “Appearances can be Deceiving”, the exhibition importantly highlights the sadder, truer side to Kahlo’s flamboyant style.

20130108-133926.jpg

Yes, she was a revolutionary celebrating her ethnicity on a world stage, but Frida also used the long skirts and corsets to hide a body which was left disfigured by childhood polio and a near-fatal road accident when she was 18 that forced her to have over 30 operations, including a leg amputation in her last years.

20130108-134052.jpg

20130108-134107.jpg

Frida allegedly once said, “I suffered two grave accidents in my life. One in which a streetcar knocked me down. The other Diego.” Despite passionate and deep, Frida and her husband Diego’s love for each other was so often troubled. They both had terrible tempers and entertained many extramarital affairs. Bisexual Kahlo had affairs with both men and women, including Parisian dancer Josephine Baker, meanwhile, a philandering Rivera had numerous affairs, including one with Frida’s younger sister, Cristina. The couple divorced in November 1939, but remarried in December 1940. The artist never tried to hide the great deal of pain she experienced in her life. Her often violent, sinister self-portraits and paintings always portrayed exactly what Frida was experiencing in her life.

Frida painting her own body cast.

20130108-134158.jpg

Frida still appears on art Tumblrs and fashion blogs all over the internet. This is a photoshopped image via here.

20130108-134142.jpg

But even in her darkest moments, Frida was a survivor and knew how to looks past the knock backs that life so often threw at her. When she was given the fate of her leg amputation, Frida was quoted as saying, “Feet, what do I need them for, if I have wings to fly?”

20130108-134215.jpg

20130108-134226.jpg

20130108-134236.jpg

So many people ask why Frida kept her monobrow and facial hair. Frida no doubt created her own individual style that made her look as surreal as her own art. Because of her disabilities, Frida spent so much time alone in isolation and meditation, studying herself,  mastering the fear of being alone and seeing the beauty in herself.  She once said in an interview, “I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best … I think that little by little I’ll be able to solve my problems and survive.”

Perhaps this explains her choice to flaunt her famous monobrow. Frida had learned to love herself fully, creating a positive image of her beauty and thus proudly playing-up every facet of it.

20130108-134300.jpg

In this close-up from a family portrait, a young Frida experiments with androgynous style, flouting traditional norms by donning a gentleman’s suit and slicking back her hair. Frida the rebel.

20130108-134313.jpg

We have much to learn from this powerful woman who knew that there is no greater runway than the runway of life.

20130108-134324.jpg

Next stop Mexico?! If you’re lucky enough to be in Mexico City within the next year, “Appearances Can be Deceiving: The Dresses of Frida Kahlo” will show at Museo Frida Kahlo in Mexico City until November 22, 2013.

Photos via the Banco de México Fiduciario en el Fideicomiso relativo a los Museos Frida Kahlo y Diego Rivera. 

:::

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:

.


 

You Might Also Like

Comments

More in AbandonedNostalgiaTime travel

Hot Off the Press

Editor's Picks

magiccarpet

The Incredible Magic Carpets of Everyday Junk

After seeing this, you may never look at an empty plastic bottle or your bathroom's Q-tips in quite the same way again. Think of any mundane, everyday object lying around in your home and We Make C...

Trending 4,807
bathttime12

Kangaroo Bathtime at a New York City Madhouse

Anyone who has a pet knows that bathtime can be a rather tricky affair. But after discovering this photo story deep in the LIFE archives, giving a thorough scrub to my oversized pup now seems lik...

Trending 4,721
klm

All Aboard AirBnB’s Airplane Apartment

There's nothing 'economy' about this getaway home whose front porch also happens to be an airport boarding ramp– and a very welcoming one at that, with an orange nome waiting for you at the door....

Trending 12,190
IMG_5103_Fotor

Le P’tit Bar: A Time Capsule in Paris

At 9 meters squared, "Le P'tit Bar" is literally the most petit bar in Paris. On any evening upon first glance, it looks as if it's closing up for the night, but do not be deterred– push open the...

Trending 28,377