In order to elevate the exhibit from simple costume into a fashion exhibit in collaboration with Vogue, the show also includes examples of how her style has influenced modern design. There are the corsets from Jean Paul Gaultier and Comme des Garçon's collections. And in the Givenchy dresses on display, designed by Riccardo Tisci, there are Kahlo-inspired flowers, white lace and cotton, reminiscent of a few key elements often found in her paintings.
Several other artists were brought on board to contribute to the exhibition including Dai Rees who created a leather corset inspired by those worn by Frida Kahlo and Angelo Seminara who used dyed hemp (using Frida's favorite colors) to create hair designs for the nine faceless mannequins wearing her clothing.
It's a small exhibit with the Casa Azul having just five rooms to show Kahlo's personal belongings. And it's a shame since the items that are shown spark a curiosity and hunger to know more about what Frida chose to wear and the style that has lived on so long after her passing. What else was in that closet?
Perhaps to satisfy that curiosity, the curators are planning on rotating parts of the exhibit in five months to show more of the items. The mannequins in one gallery will be switched into new looks and the cabinet of personal items that now includes shoes and jewelry will also be changed.
We can only guess which items they will choose to display – will we get to see all the photographs and love letters? – but ultimately it's the small items that are the most potent offerings: they are what bring her to life, and take us beyond the now familiar image of her self-portraits. From nail polish to medicine, the show's power comes from humanizing an icon and making her a woman we can all relate to.
Frida circa 1926, photo taken by her dad Guillermo.
Appearances Can Be Deceiving: The Dresses of Frida Kahlo, a collaboration between the Frida Kahlo Museum and Vogue Mexico, opened on November 24th, 2012 and will run for a full year.