My skirts with their lace flounces
and the antique blouse I always
wore xxxxxxxxx paint
the absent portrait of only one person.
Frida Kahlo, “Letter to Jacqueline Lamba,” The Diary of Frida Kahlo.

Frida’s Tehuana costume became so much a part of her persona that sometimes she painted it devoid of owner…Frida knew this magic power of clothes to substitute for their owner;  in her diary she wrote that Tehuana costume made ‘the absent portrait of only one person’—her absent self.” Hayden Herrera, Frida:  A Biography. 
The clothes of Frida Kahlo were, nevertheless, more than a second skin.  She said it herself:  The were a manner of dressing for paradise, of preparing for death…Her luxurious dresses hid her broken body;  they also permitted her to act in a ceremony of ceremonies, a dressing and undressing of herself as laborious, regal, and ritualistic as those of the Emperor Montezuma, who was helped by several dozen handmaidens. Carlos Fuentes, Introduction, The Diary of Frida Kahlo.

Many of the most captivating photos of Frida Kahlo were taken by Nicholas Muray. A native of Hungary, Muray was a famous portrait photographer at the turn of the century. I love the way the two have collaborated to make Kahlo a flower in the top portrait: the floral design of the wallpaper, flowers in her hair and on her dress form a stunning combination. Kahlo’s Tehuana dresses are one of the hallmarks of herstyle.Tehuantepec is a region in southern Mexico. The Tehuana dresses consisted of a blouse (called “Huipil”) and a long skirt. Kahlo also paid close attention to her accessories, often wearing elaborately crafted jewelry, and to arrangement of her hair, here beautifully adorned with flowers or ribbons. The Casa Azul, her home in Mexico, has some of her of clothing on display. An exhibition last year in Baden-Baden featured Kahlo’s paintings and Tehuana dresses.


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