When Frida Kahlo died in 1954, her husband, the artist Diego Rivera, ordered her wardrobe to be sealed away until 15 years after his own death. It was uncovered in 2004, and this postscript only heightens the mythology of Kahlo’s now iconic and much admired style.
With traditional embroidered Mexican garments, kodachrome photographs and her original beauty products all on display, the V&A’s upcoming exhibition of the Mexican artist’s apparel helps to decode her artwork and life. As the red-booted prosthetic leg in the show reminds us in particular, clothing was performative and transformative for Kahlo, who suffered from debilitating illnesses and physical problems throughout her life.
Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up is at the V&A from June 16.