“They thought I was a Surrealist, but I wasn’t. I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality” – Frida Kahlo
Frida Kahlo’s perspective on dress was unique, in that she was able to express her political and feminist views using traditional Tehuana-style Mexican garments. Many believe that she chose this style of dress at the request of her partner, Diego Rivera, as a way to reflect their populist, socialist political perspectives—but early family photos show that Frida had worn Tehuana costumes since her girlhood.
Possibly she re-embraced the style of dress as a way to conceal her physical impairments and realized that her dress was also a statement of Mexicanidad—a celebration of her indigenous culture. It is telling that she adopted the traditional dress of the Tehuantepec—a matriarchal society—as a way to exert her own personhood and opinions. It is no coincidence that her style of dress was symbolic of a powerful Mexican woman.
Frida played with color and texture, combining traditional floor-length skirts, square-cut huipil blouses, and traditional embroideries with lace and ribbon trim and bright fabrics imported from Europe—creating a true signature style.
P.S.: The inspiration board above also includes images and inspiration from British Textiles 1700 to the Present by Linda Parry, American Snapshots by Robert E. Jackson (and don’t miss the Instagram account here), Christian Dior (English Version), tear sheets from Vogue Magazine, a men’s shirt design from Comme des Garçons, an image from photographer Paul Graves, and a slew of others who inspire every day.