Frida Kahlo's Dresses
September 28, 2012 6:36 PM   Subscribe

Dresses that hid Frida Kahlo's pain come to light decades on. The colorful dresses of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo will go on display for the first time in November after being kept hidden from public view for 50 years at the request of her husband, acclaimed muralist Diego Rivera.

The exhibit explores Kahlo's fascination with Mexico's indigenous women and her penchant for richly embroidered ethnic frocks, flowery headpieces and ornate silver jewelry that earned her a photo shoot with Vogue magazine in 1937. It also reveals how she chose clothes to hide her disfigurement after a bout of childhood polio that left one leg thinner than the other and a devastating bus accident that broke her spine in three places and left her in constant pain and scarred from subsequent surgeries.

Images from the Blue House museum display.
posted by SweetTeaAndABiscuit (13 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
It's kind of disappointing that the pictures accompanying these links only show one outfit... unless I'm missing something? It would be an interesting exhibit, though. I have read that Kahlo had an unerring eye for aesthetics in interior design and fashion as well as in painting. She would go through a five and dime store "like a whirlwind", and pick out one perfect item.

The impression I get looking at the dress compared to the curator and her hands is that Kahlo was tiny.
posted by orange swan at 6:48 PM on September 28, 2012 [5 favorites]

I agree it would be lovely to have more dresses to look at. I think they are just beginning to plan the exhibit and maybe when it opens in November there will be more photos.
posted by SweetTeaAndABiscuit at 7:04 PM on September 28, 2012

On actually reading (ahem . . . ) the page I linked above, it isn't actually the 1930s Vogue cover that featured Kahlo, but rather a much more recent Vogue cover that featured a photo of Kahlo. Nevertheless, the page has several photos of Kahlo, including the recent French Vogue issue that featured her on the cover.
posted by flug at 7:40 PM on September 28, 2012

I have had two accidents in my life - the streetcar crash and Diego Rivera.
posted by bukvich at 8:40 PM on September 28, 2012 [3 favorites]

I especially like the embroidered pillow in the chair, image #6 from your second link. Thanks for these links, I will have to keep an eye out to see if there will be a book that accompanies the exhibition.
posted by blacktshirtandjeans at 9:55 PM on September 28, 2012

I'm trying to figure out what's new about this, given that I own a coffee table book of Frieda's clothes.
posted by mollymayhem at 12:25 AM on September 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

Also, Frieda Kahlo is one of my fashion idols/icons/inspirations.
posted by mollymayhem at 12:29 AM on September 29, 2012

Reading about Kahlo's wardrobe, I'm reminded of what little I know of her (harrowing!) work, and of her life basically beyond the recent film. Learning a little bit about how she chose garments to highlight indigenous Mexican culture as well as to mask her injuries brings me just a step further along in understanding that she must have been a person with a lot of flavor.
posted by mr. digits at 6:34 AM on September 29, 2012

In other words, I rate this post an A+. Thanks, SweetTea.
posted by mr. digits at 7:08 AM on September 29, 2012

I'm trying to figure out what's new about this, given that I own a coffee table book of Frieda's clothes.

According to writing on that page, the 50 years was up in 2004, the book is from 2008; maybe this is the first public showing?
posted by bongo_x at 11:21 AM on September 29, 2012

Bongo, that's probably it. I have the same book mollymayhem does and it seems the pieces needed a good amount of restoration work done period, let alone to make them strong enough to go on display.
posted by at 11:42 AM on September 29, 2012

This summer I saw an exhibition of Nickolas Muray's photographs of Kahlo. The inkjet prints were nice but the actual color prints were breath-taking. They had a depth and lushness that doesn't come across in all the reproductions I've seen.

The photographs were accompanied by a display of textiles, clothing, and jewelry of the types favored by Kahlo and those too were entrancing. I do a little bit of handwork myself and I can't imagine how long it must take to do the embroidery on those traditional dresses.
posted by Squeak Attack at 11:36 AM on October 3, 2012

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