Frida Kahlo is one of the most celebrated artists in the world nowadays. She is literally everywhere: in musea, iPhone covers, restaurants, bags, decorations and yes, even in underwear. Like many of her fans, I admire Frida Kahlo, but – to be honest – I sometimes feel like I am one of the happy few who really knows who she is.
Almost everyone admires the looks and appearance of Frida Kahlo, as well as her paintings and her ideology, but who is she really and why did she become so popular? Let me figure it out for you.
Keep on reading if you want to know more about…
- Frida Kahlo and the dramatic story of her life
- the popularity of Frida Kahlo today in fashion, food and fun
- and what we can learn from Frida Kahlo today
Who is Frida Kahlo?
Okay, for those who really don’t have a clue… Frida Kahlo is a Mexican artist, born in 1907 in a suburb of Mexico City. When Frida was 6 years old, she got infected with polio (a potentially deadly infectious disease). As a result, her right leg remained thinner and she got slightly crippled.
When she got 18, in 1925, Frida went to study medicine. On the way to school, her bus got hit by a tram, a tragedy with great consequences. Frida got seriously injured as a piece of steel railing penetrated her body and came out through her vagina. Frida’s hip and ribs are broken and her right leg, spine and foot were broken into pieces.
Here’s were Frida’s life of suffering really began. After many surgeries and painful treatments, Frida was able to lead a more-or-less normal life again a few year later, but she was all the time tired and in pain. She needed to stay in bed often and wear a corset. When her mother placed a mirror above her bed in order that she could see herself, Frida started to draw and paint herself.
This explains why Frida’s first (and much of her later) paintings were mostly self-portraits. And… the rest is a tragic history which has been documented in an amazing movie named ‘Frida’. This is a MUST WATCH for everyone who is interested in culture and art history as well. Main characters Frida and Diego Rivera (her husband) are played by Salma Hayek and Antonio Banderas. Promising cast, isn’ it?!
Where to Find Frida Kahlo Today?
I live in the city of Palma de Mallorca in Spain, so I am going to show you by little examples where you can find Fridamania today in fashion, food and fun.
Frida’s style is all about flowered headbands, unique jewellery, floral blouses, colorful details, must mostly her style is about an ethnic message.
Frida Kahlo was a proud “mestiza”: she was the daughter of a German-Hungarian father and a half Spanish, half indigenous Tehuana mother. This is why she purposely mixes Western clothing with a more traditional style. Hence, her dress is demonstrating an ethnic and political identity which is clearly representing this duality, just like her paintings do.
“Dressing up like Frida is not only about the looks, it is also about the message!”Julie
So, if you want to go dressed like Frida Kahlo today, that’s ok: start to grow your eyebrows, buy a flowered headband, a floral blouse, some vintage jewellery and a long patterned dress in a vintage shop like Flamingos Vintage Kilo in Palma de Mallorca, but remember: it is not only about the looks, it is also about the message!
PS: Flamingos is a great place for American vintage clothing on the island, or to look for an authentic Frida Kahlo outfit!
Dressing up like Frida Kahlo can be a challenge, but it is also a lot of fun!
Frida Kahlo was born in Mexico, the country of enchiladas, burritos, quesadillas, margaritas, tequilas, tacos, nachos, you name it! Don’t we all love some spicy Mexican food!? According to CNN Travel (and me), the Mexican cuisine is amongst the TOP 10 Best Cuisines Worldwide.
You can visit Frida’s kitchen in Casa Azul in Mexico City, which is now a museum, and no longer her house, of course (Duh!), but if you want to taste some authentic Mexican food somewhere nearby, you will definetely find a good Mexican restaurant in any European city, like this one in Palma: La Cantina de Frida.
La Cantina de Frida is a Mexican Taqueria (place specialized in Tacos) in Palma de Mallorca. It is entirely themed in Frida Kahlo style. Fridamania guaranteed, from the music to the wall photos, quotes and table decoration. The owner is a good-looking and cheerful Mexican guy who’s specialty is making strong and tasty cocktails (Mexican style, I guess!). 😉
Many restaurants and shops nowadays have commercialized the cult of Frida Kahlo, like this Taqueria in Palma de Mallorca.
Nowadays Frida Kahlo is visible everywhere in gadgets like wallets and iPhone cases, or even underwear, in stores like En Mi Maleta (literally translated: in my suitcase), a popular souvenir shop in the old center of Palma de Mallorca (near Cafe L’Antiquari).
The reason that Frida Kahlo has become so popular nowadays is probably a mixture of her great qualities as an artist, her political struggle for feminism and her unique and characteristic looks. She is an instantly recognizable image, which is perfect for commercialization.
Many girls – like me – are in LOVE with Frida Kahlo gadgets. They are the perfect souvenir to bring home from your travels, or an ideal birthday present *hint: mine is 15th of October*. (I even bought myself an entire vintage Frida Kahlo book collection with photograph copies for my 26th birthday!).
What we can Learn from Frida Kahlo Today
Of course, Frida Kahlo had a beautiful style. Both her clothing style and paintings were colorful and she knew better than anyone else in her time and region of the world how to be fashionable and unique. But, there is more than the eye meets. What made that Frida is such a great source of inspiration for women (and men) today?
As I already mentioned:
“The reason that Frida Kahlo has become so popular nowadays is a mixture of her great qualities as an artist, her political struggle for feminism and her unique and instantly recognizable looks.”Julie
Frida Kahlo became very popular in the Mexican feminist movement because of the unequivocally subservient position she held in her marriage with Diego Rivera, her husband and famous painter.
She is also a feminist because she dared to paint natural images of women and portrayed real feelings and experiences, something that was ‘not done’ in her time. Thereby, she used her personal life and weaknesses without victimizing herself. This made her come across even stronger.
Moreover, She defied gender stereotypes and she was bisexual: she looked a bit masculine with her big eyebrows, she had relationships with women, she was bossy, she got drunk, she dressed like a man sometimes. When I watched her movie, I even thought for a minute she could have been a transgender if she lived anno 2019.
Frida Kahlo had a strong ideology: she was a fierce nationalist within Mexican politics and she was a radical artist going against the artistic currents of her times. She had a true revolutionary spirit. Did you know that Frida Kahlo was a member of the Mexican Communist Party?
Frida… From Icon to Influencer
In conclusion, I think that it is clear that Frida Kahlo is more than a fashion icon and popular face on todays gadgets in souvenir stores. She is a great and celebrated artist, political activist, radical feminist and most of all, a real influencer (to use todays’ buzz word). Why?
Frida has a few characteristics of what is the ideal BFF (Best Friend Forever) character that we are all looking for in influencers today. She is real, sometimes strong and sometimes weak. She is not always happy and we can recognize our hopes and pains in her stories: from drama relationships to failures in our careers to not responding to beauty ideals (remember, Frida had huge eyebrows).
We can actually relate to her because she was far from perfect, yet inspiring! That is why she is one of the greatest influencers ALL TIME for many of us. Viva Frida! Viva la Fridamania!
From Julie with Love
Disclaimer: this blog post has been sponsored by La Cantina de Frida.