Hidden within the brush strokes of Frida Kahlo?s paintings lays the story of the iconic artist herself. The intensity of her emotions, her beliefs, her political convictions, her reality. A reality which defies easy description, being both intimate and powerful. Both colorful and dark. Both traditional and without conventions. Frida Kahlo painted to transcend immense pain - suffering from polio at 6 and a life changing bus accident at 18, heartbreak and miscarriages - and also ?alegria?! - a lust for life.
With her homeland Mexico filling her with pride, she painted a narrative of Mexican culture at a time where it was still seeking to find its own identity, on its way to embrace its cross-cultural heritage, using vivid yellows and reds of `Mexican tradition. Most and foremost, Kahlo?s art became her biography, making every self-portrait, every still-life, a most honest expression of herself.
The same held true for her personal style. If Frida expressed what she felt inside herself through art, than she expressed what she felt outside herself through the way she dressed. Clothing played an important role in her self-presentation. Inspired by her Mexican roots and the artistic traditions of the Tehuantepec Indians, a strongly matriarchal society whose women still make dresses in pre-Hispanic Zapotec styles, Frida dressed in flamboyant native Mexican costume associated with the region of Tehuantepec. Delicate embroidered tops, colorful, floor-length skirts. Her ink-black hair, center parted in signature braids, interwoven with colorful ribbons or flowers. The Mexican quechquemitl - a shawl type with endless variations, wrapped around her shoulders in bright colors, which typically contrasted with the rest of her outfit. All accessorized by Pre-Columbian necklaces, often mismatched earrings, her hands bedecked with rings.
Frida?s art and charisma transcended her time and inspired many. Flaunting the defects most women try to cover up, having found a way to paint pain, Frida is shockingly liberating. Fashion designers from Elsa Schiaparelli to Jean Paul Gaultier created designs based on Frida?s wardrobe. She stood on the cover of French Vogue and in 2001, the U.S. Postal Service placed her image on a 34-cent stamp. Frida holds our attention because she permits us to reinvent ourselves. Speaking to us through her art and imaginative sense of style, she frowns her unibrow and tells us to always be true to ourselves and to enjoy life passionately. In her own words: ?It is not worthwhile, to leave this world without having had a little fun in life.?
November 02, 2011
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