Over 200 intimate possessions once belonging to the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo will be included in the V&A’s new exhibition dedicated to the pop cultural icon, including her prosthetic leg with a red leather boot.
The exhibition, titled ‘Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up’, will open this June and promises to be the museum’s blockbuster show of the summer. Exploring how Kahlo became one of the most recognised and significant artists of the 20th century and how she very deliberately fashioned her identity in the public eye, it will be the first to display her clothing and personal possessions outside of Mexico.
The cache of items included in the exhibition’s offering includes scores that were kept locked away in Kahlo’s rooms after he death in 1954. The pieces, including clothing, jewellery, letters, cosmetics and medicines, were discovered in 2004, 50 years after her death. These will be displayed alongside some of Kahlo’s work, as well as film and photography documenting the artist’s life.
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