The Intimate Universe of Frida Kahlo
Last year while in DF, we checked out Appearances Can Be Deceiving: The Dresses of Frida Kahlo, a collaboration between the Frida Kahlo Museum and Vogue Mexico. After having been locked away for over 50 years, the director of the museum opened up Kahlo’s closet to unveil hundreds of her personal items, many of which were on display at this exhibit.
When she died, her husband, Diego Rivera, had everything packed away in what was thought to be an attempt to protect and preserve those last precious memories of Frida. But after many years, we were finally able to peak into the intimate life of Frida Kahlo.
The show was a brilliant juxtaposition of grace and struggle, female independence and traditional Mexican patriarchy, characteristics that Kahlo balanced flawlessly, giving way to her own definition of beauty and femininity. Kahlo suffered from polio at the tender age of six and then later, as a young adult, was victim to a severe bus accident, which left her in a body cast for over three months.
Years later she had to amputate one of her legs due to gangrene. Confined to a wheelchair, constricted by body braces, paired with a prosthetic leg; it was through these personal struggles that Frida’s distinct and much coveted style was born, a style that will continue to influence the art and fashion world for all time to come.
“For Frida Kahlo, the Tehuana traditional dress was not only an object that she adapted to her body to hide her imperfections, but something she fused with and wore like a second skin. The Tehuana dress comes from the Tehuanatepec Isthmus located in the south easter part of Mexico in the region of Oaxaca. This matriarchal society is administrated and dominated by women, and, as such, their traditional attire is a strong symbol of female power and independence." — Museo Frida Kahlo
The first half of the photos in this post are some snapshots of the clothing, braces, corsets and drawings from Kahlo’s hidden closet. The second half are images from inside and around Frida and Diego’s home, which display some of their artwork, personal belongings and the artesania which decorated their home.
I was personally so impacted by this exhibit; it was tough to precisely capture my sentiment. The human experience being brought into question at every corner, what does it mean to be beautiful, feminine, masculine, strong, capable, weak? Kahlo challenged each definition, deconstructed common stereotypes, and replaced them with a pure authenticity that the world could not ignore.