Frida Kahlo Is The Subject Of The V&A’s Next Fashion Exhibition

Frida Kahlo

by Rebecca Cope |
Published on

The wardrobe of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo is set to be the subject of the V&A's next major fashion exhibition for 2018 following on from Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion.

'The V&A will present the first exhibition to be held outside Mexico of Kahlo’s clothing and personal possessions, including prosthetics, medicines, accessories, jewellery, photographs and letters,' the V&A said in a statement this morning. 'These were discovered in the Blue House in 2004 following the opening up of cupboards and storerooms which had remained sealed for fifty years. This ground-breaking exhibition will explore the development of Kahlo’s style as an amalgam of traditional Mexican garments, fashion from Europe and beyond, and demonstrate how her wardrobe was expressive of the complex relationship between her Mexican and Western heritage.'

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Instantly recognisable for her thick, dark braids, pink flowers in her hair and of course that monobrow, Kahlo's style and aesthetic has long been a source of inspiration. The artist was known for wearing bright prints, layered Spanish skirts and chunky necklaces - a look that she immortalised in her self-portraits.

As well as being visually arresting, her clothes were actually significant for other reasons. Kahlo chose pieces worn by various ethnic groups in Mexico, including Tehuana dresses and Huipil blouses (specific to Tehuantepec and Mayan women respectively). She was known to enjoy shopping and spent hours in front of the mirror every day studying her look.

Unsurpringly, she has inspired designers, with Dolce & Gabbana, Jean Paul Gaultier and Alexander McQueen all drawing on her image as an influence. She has also been cited as an inspiration for Beyonce, while Madonna has been particularly vocal about her love for Kahlo, although Salma Hayek beat her to the lead role in the biopic of her life.

What makes the story of Kahlo's clothes particularly remarkable is that they were kept under lock and key after her death. Her partner Diego Rivero insisted that her private dressed room was sealed after she passed away in 1954 and it was only reopened again in 2004. This exhibition marks the first time that they've been shown outside of Mexico.

It's not the first showcase dedicated to Kahlo's image this year, though. Photographs taken of the artist by long-time friend and lover Nikolas Muray were recently the subject of an exhibition at the Museum of Latin American Art in California. Many of them are instantly recognisable, including the well-known shot of her posing against a green wall with floral print paper, with matching flowers in her hair.

An official title has not yet been released, but the exhibition is due to be mounted next spring.

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