The Frida Kahlo Museum in Coyoacán, Mexico, and Vogue Mexico present “an exhibition that will make history”, Las apariencias engañan: Los vestidos de Frida Kahlo (Smoke and Mirrors: Frida Kahlo’s dresses). The exhibit’s opening is scheduled for November 22, and it will run through the next five months.
Curated by Circe Henestrosa, the exhibition contains eleven outfits that belonged to Frida, personal objects and pieces from the artist´s wardrobe. The museum has recovered, and now exhibits, a collection that includes shawls, skirts, blouses, dresses, tehuana mantles, stockings, petticoats, pants, shirts, ribbons, corsets and bathing suits.
More than 300 pieces were found in Casa Azul in 2004, when several rooms that had remained closed since her death were opened. Kahlo´s companion, the painter Diego Rivera, had stipulated that they should not be opened until fifty years after Kahlo´s death. The treasures found include documents, photographs, works of art, and a collection of textiles from the artist´s wardrobe.
The organizers claim that the main objective of the exhibition is to explore Kahlo´s identity “expressed through the striking visual image she created with her clothes, and to show its influence in contemporary fashion and design by way of Mexican textiles”. And they add, “the central thesis presents disability and ethnicity as two new components of interpretation that encouraged Kahlo´s decision to wear ethnic garments from different regions of the country.”
Vogue´s decision to present this exhibition is long overdue. In 1937, photographer Toni Frissell took a photo of Frida Kahlo, which was published in Vogue USA. In that issue, the magazine aimed to explore a fashion style quite different at that time. Frida Kahlo fit that profile and the photographer achieved what has been valued as “a very powerful image.”
Thus was born the urban legend that Frida Kahlo had been featured in the cover of Vogue Mexico. This finally came true, in the November 2012 issue of Vogue Mexico. This time the magazine offers more than 100 pages in which experts, curators, contemporary artists, writers and historians analyze the enigma that was Frida Kahlo.
It is a very special collector’s issue. ■