Jill Layton
May 07, 2015 12:17 pm

Artist Frida Kahlo is best known for her self portraits and her magnificent, amazing eyebrows. (Also, she was the original promoter of the flower crown). She was basically the first selfie artist — which totally makes sense, because as she famously once said, “I paint myself because I am so often alone, and because I am the subject I know best”. Through her self portraits, Frida Kahlo fans across the world have been given a tiny glimpse into her colorful and intricate wardrobe choices, decisions that perhaps reflected her own deeply personal reality of pain and suffering. Outside of her self portraits, however, not much has been known about her style — until now.

After Kahlo’s death in 1954, her husband Diego Rivera locked all of her belongings in a bathroom in their home, and demanded it remain shut until 15 years after his death. He died in 1957, but the room wasn’t opened until 2004. In 2012, the items were put on display in Mexico City at the Museo Frida Kahlo (AKA the Blue House — Kahlo’s home) and traveled to various museums around the world, a time capsule of beautiful history for everyone to see.

As Kahlo’s things were being taken out of the time capsule bathroom in 2004, photographer Ishiuchi Miyako was given permission to take photos of each of the items. It took a few years (11 to be exact), but Miyako’s photos are now on display at the Michael Hoppen Gallery in London, and they are just as fantastic as we imagined. Kahlo left traces of herself all over her garments, from paint stains to  stitchings.

When Kahlo was a child, she contracted polio, which caused her left leg to be thinner than her right. She had to rig her shoes so both of her legs would be on the same level. Then in her 20s, she was in a terrible bus accident, fracturing her leg in 11 places. She wore long, traditional Tehuana dresses that effectively covered her legs. She painted her casts and medical equipment, turning her suffering into artwork.

In 1953, Kahlo’s leg was amputated, which she ultimately never recovered from — but that didn’t stop her from expressing her unique sense of style. For example, this red lace-up boot she attached to her prosthetic leg.

According to the Michael Hoppen Gallery, Kahlo’s friends said that the more incapacitated by illness she became, the more intricate and elaborate her outfits were. It’s truly fascinating to see her garments up close and personal, and to see more of the spirit of such an inspiring woman. We feel like we understand the complexities of Friday Kahlo a little more than we did before.

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