Mexicana prevails this summer as the V&A opens its doors to the much-anticipated Frida Kahlo exhibition, ‘Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up’. With a life as colourful as the embroidered Tehuana dresses she wore, our unfading fascination for her legacy builds new momentum as London unveils to the world a striking collection of Kahlo’s most intimate belongings. Personal artefacts and clothes concealed behind closed doors for the last 50 years offer a new perspective on the life and style of one of the most notable and avant-garde women of modern times. In homage, we explore Frida Kahlo’s extraordinary persona through a sartorial lens.
Notably famed for her self-portraits, Kahlo’s work is deeply symbolic and realistic, often interweaving political, cultural and feminist messages. Hauntingly autobiographical, Kahlo articulated her turbulent marriage to the muralist Diego Rivera, her miscarriages, and her numerous medical operations through her art and sartorial choices. Today, this allows us to enjoy a personal and intimate connection with the spirited artist.
Born in 1907 near Mexico City, Kahlo famously claimed that she was born in 1910, not to appear younger, but so that her birthday would coincide with the Mexican Revolution and the beginning of a modern Mexico. That was exemplary of her rebellious nature. Daring with her personal style and art forms, she often portrayed the darker and painful aspects of her life with vibrancy and rawness. It was during her convalescence while recovering from a terrible tram accident that the 19 year old Kahlo sparked an interest in painting- a pastime that would eventually turn her into one of the most important painters of the 20th century.
“I’m the person I know best. I paint my own reality. The only thing I know is that I paint because I need to and I paint whatever passes through my head without any other consideration.”
Profoundly influenced by indigenous Mexican culture, Kahlo’s clothes and accessories were defined by her use of colours that pop and dramatic symbolism, much like her paintings. Thanks to the V&A’s retrospective, an extensive collection of Kahlo’s outfits, statement jewellery and cosmetics will be available for public viewing until 4th November. Amongst the brightly-hued treasures feature indigenous blouses or huipiles that disguised a structured corsetry and helped to align Kahlo’s damaged torso. Floor length skirts with chain stitching and floral motif embroidery masked a polio-stricken leg. Unwittingly, Kahlo’s attempts to hide her imperfections created an iconic image that champions courage, creativity and the colourful spirit of Mexico.
More than sixty years on from her death, Kahlo has become a fashion genre within her own right. A continual inspiration for fashion designers, her love of colour and bold florals can be found imbued in this summer’s fashion trends. Instantly recognisable and distinctly bohemian in aesthetic, Kahlo’s style is brought into the 21st century as flowing patterned dresses and floral printed headscarves and silk shawls add fun and freshness to SS18.
Embrace the spirit of Frida Kahlo and be drawn to the colour and texture that surrounded her life with colourful, bold, bright and floral-inspired gemstone pieces. At Astley Clarke we’ve naturally unveiled a spectrum of vibrantly hued precious and semi-precious gemstone jewellery perfect for your summer holiday or outdoor celebration. Emulate Frida’s decadent and ornately decorated style with the warm golden tones of the Floris rings and pendants adorned with bold lapis lazuli and malachite, as well as the textured Mille and Mini Floris pieces. Alternatively, capture the spirit of modern bohemian jewellery with our gemstone beaded pieces such as the Peggy necklaces, Vera hoop earrings or our coveted Biography bracelet stacks.
A perfect way to wear colour with confidence, channel your inner Frida with our collection of Gemstone Jewellery.