Frida Kahlo’s Wardrobe

I was visiting Mexico City over the New Year’s holiday and made a side trip to the bohemian suburb of Coyoacan. Many people make the trek here so they can visit the famous Frida Kahlo museum (also known as La Casa Azul). My sister mentioned that they had just unveiled a new Frida Kahlo exhibit. Not of her paintings, but of the items in her wardrobe. Apparently, when she passed away in 1954, hubby Diego Rivera took many of her personal items and locked them away in a separate room with strict orders that they never be displayed in his lifetime. Well, they sure weren’t. He passed away in 1957 and they finally got around to displaying her belonging 56 years later. It is aptly titled: “Appearances Can be Deceiving: The Dresses of Frida Kahlo”.

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For fans of the eccentric and surrealistic Kahlo, you will be glad to know that her wardrobe was as colorful and highly personal as her art. This very intimate collection consists of various dresses, shoes, jewelry, and body braces. Poor Frida suffered from very poor health due to a tragic bus accident when she was a teenager. She broke her spine, collar bone, and ribs and to top it off a metal object penetrated her abdomen. As such, she was forced to wear various types of braces for the rest of her life.

Click photo for a big surprise

My first reaction to this display was a mixture of horror and queasiness. I don’t give much thought to what I am going to wear every day. As long as it’s clean, it works for me. Well, Frida’s routine was much different than you and I. These are some of the body accessories Frida had to consider when dressing every day. Yes, that is an artificial leg brace. Frida had her leg amputated near the final years of her life.

Click photo for a big surprise

Although I was allowed to take photos, the lighting was not ideal for photography. The light was bouncing all over the glass. I struggled a bit to get decent shots of her interesting wardrobe. Like this dress and brace. This body brace seems painful just looking at it.

Click photo for a big surprise

You have to hand it to Frida. She was anything but boring. Her choice of fashion and color was very unique and reflected her cultural roots mixed with a bit of individual style. I love those bright red platform boots. Something tells me she would have been a big David Bowie fan.

Click photo for a big surprise

I really liked this portrait of the young Frida. Her soulful eyes display a sense of maturity not found in many 12 year olds. I’m willing to bet that even at such a young age, Frida probably had an inclination of her colorful personality and rebellious nature that would mark the rest of her life.

Although she has become very popular in the last few decades, what with movies and magazine covers dedicated to her, poor Frida lived quite a calamitous life. Diego treated her like shit and since she was bedridden for so long, art became a way for her to escape her tragic reality.  I’ve always seen Frida as a sad figure who in spite of her physical and emotional challenges, left quite an artistic legacy that we can all admire. I would even go so far as to say that she eventually surpassed husband Diego Rivera in popularity and cultural relevance. Talk about the ultimate survivor!

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