60 years after her death a new exhibition in London shows why we’re still captivated by the artist Frida Kahlo.
By Susan Devaney
Her dark hair shaping her head like a sculpture, those brightly coloured chunky earrings, that unapologetic monobrow – and flowers, everywhere. These characteristics shaped Kahlo’s distinctive look and told her story. Known more for her famous paintings – Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird and The Two Fridas – Kahlo’s personal style was part of her own artwork too. From long flowing skirts to statement prints to heavy embroidery, Kahlo had a penchant for clothes and a unique sense of style. She never toyed with the fashion of the 1930s and 40’s instead she always aimed to stand out. Today, her style choices have inspired designers such as Dolce & Gabbana and Marc Jacobs.
Born in Mexico City in 1907, clothes became some kind of armour for Kahlo throughout her life. In her childhood she suffered from polio and when she was a teenager she was involved in a terrible bus accident that left her with a permanent disfigurement. Throughout her life she flamboyantly decorated her casts and corsets to conceal their necessity to aid her in walking. In short: clothes made her feel great.
Known for her self-portraits and confessional style painting, Kahlo was a true creative where style and substance went hand-in-hand. Following her death in 1954 her husband locked away all of her clothes in a single room in their house until 2004 when world-renowned photographer Ishiuchi Miyako captured Kahlo’s clothes in their aged state. From her elaborate choice of sunglasses to her sun bleached swimming costume, this photographic record of nearly 300 items can be seen in London’s Michael Hoppen Gallery until 12th July 2015.