Traditional Tehuana dress
Anyone with the remotest familiarity with the paintings of Frida Kahlo will have noticed that one of her primary subjects is her own physical pain and the fragility of her own body, especially after a life-altering accident with a bus that occurred in 1925. In that accident, the bus she was riding on collided with a trolley car, and the list of the ailments that resulted would give even the staunchest stoic pause: a broken spinal column, a broken collarbone, several broken ribs, a broken pelvis, eleven fractures in her right leg, a crushed and dislocated right foot, a dislocated shoulder; an iron handrail pierced her abdomen and her uterus as well.
It wasn’t just her paintings that referenced her broken body (Tree of Hope, 1946, is a good example); her wardrobe inevitably did as well. Her clothes were an expression of her indomitable will as much as anything else—she was determined to live a fulfilled, independent, and creative life, and thus created for herself ad hoc clothes that fused skirts and corset or prosthetic leg and boot, and accommodated her misshapen, asymmetrical legs (as a result of which, she wore long, traditional Tehuana dresses to conceal her lower body). She painted on her body casts (one of them has the Communist hammer and sickle on it).
After Kahlo’s death in 1954, her husband Diego Rivera shut her belongings in a bathroom at their Mexico City home, the Blue House, the marvelous house they shared—and then insisted that it be locked up until 15 years after his death (which, in the event, happened in 1957). In fact, the room wasn’t opened until 2004, when Ishiuchi Miyako was given permission to photograph its intimate contents. The photographs will be on display at the Michael Hoppen Gallery in London from May 14 through July 12.
The best thing that could happen to the Internet right now would be for Etsy to become infected with Kahlo’s distinctive clothing aesthetic. This is a style icon!
Full body cast/skirt
Green silk and lace skirt/corset
Mint green bathing suit
Prosthetic leg with boot
via The Guardian