The Victoria and Albert Museum’s next major fashion exhibition for 2018 is dedicated to Mexican artist Frida Kahlo’s famously vibrant wardrobe.
Kahlo, one of the most innovative and influential artists of the 20th century, is also very much thought of as a style icon thanks to her eclectic taste and love for colour, print and stacks of jewellery. She had to have her right leg amputated in 1953 after contracting gangrene, and wore prosthetic with a bright red boot.
Locked away for 50 years after her death, this collection has never before been exhibited outside Mexico and includes many of the artist’s personal items, including necklaces, photographs and letters – and her famous prosthetic.
Khalo’s work and her personal style often intertwined, as per her paintings like My Dress Hangs There (1933) and The Love Embrace (1943) which will also be on show, along with photographs taken of her by others.
Says exhibition curator Claire Wilcox: “It is a treasure trove showing her possessions: cosmetics, and facsimile of her diary, there are letters, sewing boxes – it’s so personal. To be able to see the garments that she painted herself wearing in her self-portraits – which for many years people just assumed had gone – is remarkable.”
The most moving and perhaps hashtag relatable part of the show, is “a necklace made from pre-Columbian beads from old excavations and grave sites, which Frida strung together. On one of the jade beads there is a tiny dab of green paint, where she tried to meticulously match her paint to her necklace. This material evidence shows that as an artist and a woman she regarded her appearance as a powerful tool, something that still resonates today.”
Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up, sponsored by Grosvenor Britain & Ireland, at the V&A from 16 June – 4 November 2018 | vam.ac.uk/FridaKahlo