A bona fide fashion icon. ( And yes I named my dog after her)
One of my favourite female icons is Frida Kahlo, the Mexican artist who is remembered for her self-portraits, pain and passion, and bold and vibrant colours.
She is celebrated for her sense of style and her attention to Mexican and indigenous culture and by feminists for her depiction of the female experience and form.
Considered one of Mexico’s greatest artists, Frida Kahlo began painting after she was severely injured in a bus accident. She had a volatile marriage with fellow Mexican artist Diego Rivera and suffered lifelong health problems, childlessness and betrayal and transformed her suffering into transcendental art.
“I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best’’ – Frida Kahlo
Anyone familiar with Frida Kahlo’s paintings knows her distinctive look – dark haired piled on top of her head, chunky earrings, a cluster of flowers, an unapologetic unibrow and a visible moustache. Added to that was a flair for style: she dressed in tweaked versions of traditional Mexican clothing rich with amazing embroidery and vibrant colours.
She took risks, had her very own characteristic style and signature and stood out on purpose contrasting with the sleek aesthetic of the fashion in the 1930’s and 40s.
Her style and life are intertwined – she loved clothes for how they made her look and feel, but she also used them to both mask and highlight aspects of her identity.
She is the perfect example of a woman who wouldn’t be defeated and knew how to work her physical strengths and weaknesses.
The blouses and Tehuantepec dresses were not just an aesthetic; they were used to hide imperfections in her lower body left by the accident that nearly 40 operations couldn’t correct.
The more incapacitated Kahlo became the more colourful and attention-seeking the outfits were. Particularly striking is an image of the prosthetic leg she had to wear after an amputation in 1953. In typical Kahlo Style, its dressed flamboyantly in a red embroidered boot with a bell on the laces.
Kahlo is an intriguing example of a woman using clothes in extraordinary ways, refusing to blend into the background whatever life threw her way.
Long may her influence reign.
Frida inspired fashion today:
Find out more about Frida here
to watch the movie
Clock here to get involved in International Women’s day