See Frida Kahlo’s Hand-Painted Corsets, Custom Silk Boots, and More, Now on Display in Paris

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In Paris, the Palais Galliera (formerly known as the Musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris) has just opened “Frida Kahlo, Beyond Appearances.” The product of a collaboration with Mexico’s Museo Frida Kahlo, it is the latest chapter in a series of exhibitions that began in Mexico a decade ago (including a version at the V&A museum in London in 2018), exploring how the legendary Mexican artist used style to construct her identity.

It is not all floral headdresses. The show avoids clichés by focusing on private moments in Kahlo’s life at the Casa Azul, her birthplace and longtime home near Mexico City (she and her off-and-on husband, Mexican artist Diego Rivera, painted the now-famous structure bright blue—hence the name). The visual narrative continues in the U.S. and Paris, where Kahlo spent time with Surrealists including Marcel Duchamp, Pablo Picasso, Dora Maar, Joan Miró, and André Breton, as well as with the designer Elsa Schiaparelli.

© DR, collection privée. © Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo archives, Bank of México, fiduciary in the Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera Museums Trust.

Frida Kahlo, Self-portrait with a Resplandor, 1948.
© DR, collection privée. © Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo archives, Bank of México, fiduciary in the Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera Museums Trust.

Alongside correspondence, films, photographs, and self-portraits of the artist over the years, more than 200 pieces are on display in “Frida Kahlo, Beyond Appearances.” These range from the traditional dresses and (woven shawls) that Kahlo wore both to express her Mexican heritage and to conceal her polio-afflicted right leg, to the prosthetics and medical corsets that became her canvases while she was convalescing from an accident that nearly took her life at age 18.

Also on view are the 1930s-era necklaces that the artist assembled from pre-Columbian jadestones, which she was often photographed wearing while visiting “Gringoland” (as she referred to the U.S.).

In addition to Kahlo’s clothing and accessories—many of which are stained with paint and nicotine—you’ll find her used makeup, nail polish, and perfume (Chanel No. 5). There’s also an exhibition-within-the-exhibition (through December 31, 2022), exploring the artist’s impact on contemporary fashion, featuring ensembles by designers including Maria Grazia Chiuri, Jean Paul Gaultier, Rei Kawakubo, Karl Lagerfeld, Alexander McQueen, Riccardo Tisci, and Yohji Yamamoto.

Below, see a selection of the items on display in “Frida Kahlo, Beyond Appearances.”

Kahlo's customized silk ankle boots. © Museo Frida Kahlo - Casa Azul collection - Javier Hinojosa, 2017.

Kahlo’s customized silk ankle boots. © Museo Frida Kahlo – Casa Azul collection – Javier Hinojosa, 2017.

A plaster corset painted by Kahlo. © Museo Frida Kahlo - Casa Azul collection - Javier Hinojosa, 2017.

A plaster corset painted by Kahlo. © Museo Frida Kahlo – Casa Azul collection – Javier Hinojosa, 2017.

Kahlo reveals her painted corset under her <em>huipil </em>blouse, by Florence Arquin, ca. 1951. © DR, collection privée © Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo archives, Bank of México, fiduciary in the Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera Museums Trust.

Kahlo reveals her painted corset under her blouse, by Florence Arquin, ca. 1951. © DR, collection privée © Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo archives, Bank of México, fiduciary in the Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera Museums Trust.

The artist's blusher compact and powderpuff. © Museo Frida Kahlo - Casa Azul collection - Javier Hinojosa, 2017.

The artist’s blusher compact and powderpuff. © Museo Frida Kahlo – Casa Azul collection – Javier Hinojosa, 2017.

A <i>rebozo</i> shawl, cotton <em>huipil</em>, and silk skirt with woven velvet floral motifs. © Museo Frida Kahlo - Casa Azul collection - Javier Hinojosa, 2017.

A rebozo shawl, cotton , and silk skirt with woven velvet floral motifs. © Museo Frida Kahlo – Casa Azul collection – Javier Hinojosa, 2017.

Frida Kahlo by Antonio Kahlo, 1946. © Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo archives, Bank of México, fiduciary in the Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera Museums Trust.

Frida Kahlo by Antonio Kahlo, 1946. © Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo archives, Bank of México, fiduciary in the Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera Museums Trust.

A necklace of pre-Columbian jade beads, assembled by Frida Kahlo. © Museo Frida Kahlo - Casa Azul collection - Javier Hinojosa, 2017.

A necklace of pre-Columbian jade beads, assembled by Frida Kahlo. © Museo Frida Kahlo – Casa Azul collection – Javier Hinojosa, 2017.

Kahlo wore Chanel No. 5. © Museo Frida Kahlo - Casa Azul collection - Javier Hinojosa, 2017.

Kahlo wore Chanel No. 5. © Museo Frida Kahlo – Casa Azul collection – Javier Hinojosa, 2017.

Frida Kahlo by Julien Levy, ca. 1938. © DR, collection privée © Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo archives, Bank of México, fiduciary in the Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera Museums Trust.

Frida Kahlo by Julien Levy, ca. 1938. © DR, collection privée © Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo archives, Bank of México, fiduciary in the Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera Museums Trust.

Kahlo's prosthetic leg has a leather boot with embroidered silk appliqué. © Museo Frida Kahlo - Casa Azul collection - Javier Hinojosa, 2017.

Kahlo’s prosthetic leg has a leather boot with embroidered silk appliqué. © Museo Frida Kahlo – Casa Azul collection – Javier Hinojosa, 2017.

Kahlo's nail varnishes, ca. 1954. © Museo Frida Kahlo - Casa Azul collection - Javier Hinojosa, 2017.

Kahlo’s nail varnishes, ca. 1954. © Museo Frida Kahlo – Casa Azul collection – Javier Hinojosa, 2017.

Frida Kahlo by Dora Maar, 1934. © DR, collection privée. © Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo archives, Bank of México, fiduciary in the Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera Museums Trust / ADAGP, Paris 2022.

Frida Kahlo by Dora Maar, 1934. © DR, collection privée. © Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo archives, Bank of México, fiduciary in the Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera Museums Trust / ADAGP, Paris 2022.

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