Frida’s Closet

01/11/13

 {my favorite Frida Kahlo photograph}

Ever since I heard they’d finally opened Frida Kahlo’s closet and put it on view for the world to see, I’ve wanted to dash to Mexico City. Several years ago, The Frida Kahlo Museum in Mexico City acquired the clothes which have been in storage for 59 years. Trunks filed with dresses, shawls, and accessories were opened, restored and put on display. The exhibit, Appearances Can Be Deceiving: The Dresses of Frida Kahlo, is a collaboration between the museum and Vogue Mexico.

{photo courtesy Museo Frida Kahlo}

Can you imagine? The clothes of a style icon finally opened 59 years after her death? Inside were not only articles of her clothing but hundreds of personal items, including photographs, love letters, medications, jewelry and shoes. The curator, Circe Henestrosa, talks in the video below about how emotional it was for her staff to open up Kahlo’s closet to see the dresses, to smell them, and even to see all of the medicines she took. “You feel them, like the essence,” she says. As a collector and a lover of old things, I can only imagine how exciting — and awe inspiring — this must have been.

 {the exhibit explores both ethnicity and disability}

And why were they locked up for so long? When she died in 1954 Diego Rivera (the famous Mexican muralist and Frida Kahlo’s husband), locked the closet doors and vowed never to allow anyone to enter fearing the contents would be mishandled or ruined. When Rivera died, the contents were entrusted to a friend, Dolores Olmedo, who promised that they would not be opened until her own death. She died in 2002. Finally the museum decided to open the closet, and they were thrilled with what they found. The clothing she chose both helped to disguise her physical issues (she suffered from polio and wore a brace on her back and leg) and also to celebrate her culture (the Tehuana dresses Kahlo wore regularly were made by indigenous artisans and represented the matriarchal Tehuantepec society).

The exhibit is the first opportunity for the public to see the contents in person. Separately, a book was published in 2008, which includes 95 photographs of Kahlo’s newly restored clothing.

Appearances Can Be Deceiving: The Dresses of Frida Kahlo will run until November 2013.

 

CATEGORIES: Inspiration
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