Frida Kahlo, an icon in many ways (part 2)

27 Jan

Frida in America

Frida Kahlo is a fashion icon and remains one of the most popular artists ever. Frida was a true original and her life and looks are appealing to many. I admire Frida Kahlo also because she was an incredible strong person, who didn’t drown in sorrow because she suffered a great deal during her life, instead  she stayed true to herself and tried to make the best of it.

Recovering from her injuries isolated Frida from other people and this made her focussed on her painting. It also influenced her works, many of which are self-portraits. “I painted myself because I am often alone and because I am the subject I know best”, Frida stated, “I was born a painter.”

“I tried to drown my sorrows, but the bastards learned how to swim, and now I am overwhelmed by this decent and good feeling.”—Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo

Appearances Can Be Deceiving: The dresses of Frida Kahlo

After Frida died in 1954 Diego Rivera (her husband) locked the closet doors and vowed never to allow anyone to enter fearing the contents would be mishandled or ruined. When Diego died, not many years later, he entrusted the inheritance to a friend, Dolores Olmedo, who promised to keep it on-opened till her death. She died in 2002.

Eventually, museum personnel decided it was time to look inside. And what a discovery. Art historians and fashionistas already knew Frida was unique and ahead of her time. But, what the items in the exhibit show are that despite the disabilities, the monobrow, and the violent depictions of the female anatomy in some of her paintings, Frida Kahlo was a bit of a girlie girl who wore makeup, used perfume and dressed up her prosthetic leg with a red high-heeled boot.  Her clothing aimed for style and self-protection but it also made a statement, both political and cultural. Inside not only articles of her clothing, but also hundreds of personal items, including photographs, love letters, medications, jewelry and shoes.

This was especially true of the Tehuana dresses Kahlo wore like a “second skin,” said Circe Henestrosa, the exhibit curator. Colorful and carefully made by native artisans, they were a tribute to the matriarchal Tehuantepec society whose women were traders, considered equals with the men. Tehuana’s long skirts were also the perfect way for Kahlo to hide her ailments, including a polio-deformed leg she would eventually have amputated.

Cover Vogue mexico during opening month exhibition 2012

On november 22, 2012 an exhibition opened in the Frida Kahlo Museum for which they collaborated with Vogue Mexico. ‘Appearances Can Be deceiving: The dresses of Frida Kahlo’ . The exhibition will stay there for a year.

In order to elevate the exhibit from simple costume into a fashion exhibit in collaboration with Vogue Mexico, the show also includes examples of how her style has influenced modern design. There are the corsets from Jean Paul Gaultier and Comme des Garçon collections.  And in the Givenchy dresses on display, designed by Riccardo Tisci, there are Kahlo-inspired flowers, white lace and cotton, reminiscent of a few key elements often found in her paintings.

frida kahlo dresses on display

Frida Kahlo exhibition

Frida Kahlo exhibition

Frida Kahlo shoe

Frida Kahlo corset                                                                                                                             .

Jean Paul Gaultier, Comme des Garçons and Givency for Frida Kahlo Exhibition

Jean Paul Gaultier


Comme Des Garçons




Frida (the movie)

Frida the movie is a beautiful, colorful and entertaining biography, although not always accurate. For many years Salma Hayek, who portrays Frida Kahlo, worked and lobbied to get this movie produced.

Frida, the movie

Frida the movie is a beautiful, colorful and entertaining biography, although not always accurate. For many years Salma Hayek, who plays Frida Kahlo, worked and lobbied to get the movie made.

Frida begins with the traumatic accident Frida Kahlo suffered at the age of 18 when a trolley bus collided with a motor bus she was riding. She is impaled by a metal pole and the injuries she sustained plague her for the rest of her life. To help her through convalescence, her father brings her a canvas upon which to start painting. Throughout the film, a scene starts as a painting, then slowly dissolves into a live-action scene with actors.

Frida also details the artist’s dysfunctional relationship with Diego Rivera. When Rivera proposes to Kahlo, she tells him she expects from him loyalty if not fidelity. Diego’s appraisal of her painting ability is one of the reasons that she continues to paint. Throughout the marriage, Rivera cheats on her with a wide array of women. The two travel to New York City so that he may paint the mural Man at the Crossroads at the Rockefeller Center. While in the United States, Kahlo suffers a miscarriage, and her mother dies in Mexico. Rivera refuses to compromise his communist vision of the work to the needs of the patron, Nelson Rockefeller; as a result, the mural is destroyed. The pair return to Mexico, with Rivera the more reluctant of the two.

Salma Hayek as frida

Kahlo’s sister Cristina moves in with the two at their San Ángel studio home to work as Rivera’s assistant. Soon afterward, Kahlo discovers that Rivera is having an affair with her sister. She leaves him, and subsequently sinks into alcoholism. The couple reunite when he asks her to welcome and house Leon Trotsky, who has been granted political asylum in Mexico. She and Trotsky begin an affair, which forces the married Trotsky to leave the safety of his Coyoacán home.

Kahlo leaves for Paris after Diego realizes she was unfaithful to him with Trotsky. When she returns to Mexico, he asks for a divorce. Soon afterwards, Trotsky is murdered in Mexico City. Rivera is temporarily a suspect, and Kahlo is incarcerated in his place when he is not found. Rivera helps get her released.

Kahlo has her toes removed when they become gangrenous. Rivera asks her to remarry him, and she agrees. Her health continues to worsen, including the amputation of a leg, and she ultimately dies after finally having a solo exhibition of her paintings in Mexico.

Salma Hayek as Frida

 (Salma Hayek as Frida Kahlo in self-portrait with the earrings Picasso made for her)


Self Portrait in a Velvet Dress: Frida’s Wardrobe

Frida bookcover

The first book focused on one of the most memorable aspects of Frida’s creative output: her wardrobe.

Original and beautifully staged photographs (95) of Frida’s newly restored clothing are paired with historic photos of the artist wearing them and her paintings in which the garments appear. Frida’s life and style were a large part of her art and she deserves recognition as a fashion icon.


Fashion designers and photographers are still inspired by Frida Kahlo

For the Givenchy Fall 2010 Couture collection, Ricardo Tisci’s inspiration was Frida Kahlo and her three obsessions: religion, sensuality and  given the painter’s lifelong battle with spinal pain, the human anatomy. The zipper pulls were little bones, a belt was a spinal column re-created in porcelain. The dominant motif of the collection was the skeleton.  At one point during his presentation, Tisci rather tellingly muttered, “A romantic way to see death.”




Comme Des Garçons s/s 2012 collection was influenced by Frida Kahlo’s paintings and corsets.

Comme des Garçons Spring 2012 Ready-to-Wear Collection Slideshow on

CDG s/s 2012

CDG s/s 2012

And the Comme des Garçons fall 2005 collection had some inspiration from Frida Kahlo’s looks & style

CDG fall 2005

CDG fall 2005

CDG fall 2005

In 1998 Jean Paul Gaultier made a collection called ‘Homage a Frida Kahlo’

JP Gaultier Hommage á Frida Kahlo



Karl Lagerfeld photographed Claudia Schiffer as Frida Kahlo for German Vogue in 2012

German Vogue

German Vogue


German Vogue

German Vogue

German Vogue

German Vogue

German Vogue

.Frida Kahlo

3 Responses to “Frida Kahlo, an icon in many ways (part 2)”


  1. Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera :: Art Gallery NSW | Cristina Taylor Style Council - 26 May 2016

    […] […]

  2. 21 décembre 2013 Midi Paris 21 December Midday | Clarasource agenda - 24 July 2019

    […] se fait du couple. Ce n’est pas non plus parce que Frida Kahlo a été vampirisée par des créateurs de la mode : Jean Paul Gaultier, Comme des Garçons ou Givenchy, comme si elle représentait, l’espace […]

  3. Portraits d’un couple : Frida Kahlo et Diego Rivera – Mémoire d'Europe - 28 December 2019

    […] n’est pas parce que Frida Kahlo a été vampirisée par des créateurs de la mode : Jean Paul Gaultier, Comme des Garçons ou Givenchy, comme si elle représentait, l’espace […]

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