Frida Kahlo is undoubtedly a legendary global fashion and art icon. Known for her enduring perseverance and remarkable achievements, Frida is truly a pivotal pioneer in influencing styles and iconography still recognizable today.
Having survived both childhood polio, a harrowing bus accident which left her disabled and bedridden at 18, and later an amputation of her right leg in 1953 from gangrene, Kahlo continued to persist and thrive despite the odds seemingly all against her.
Kahlo’s tenacity to overpower her injuries and misfortune pushed her to thrive in the world of art and fashion, establishing inimitable works and a style captivating photographers to look past her disabilities.
Kahlo was an innovator in marrying fashion with functionality, as she was determined to not be defined by her “weaknesses.” She vividly adorned her corsets, accessories, and even spine, embellishing herself while also drawing attention to her face.
When she was 20 Kahlo began to elegantly wear and reinterpret the traditional Tehuana dresses, which served the purposes of embodying her indigenous background, disguising her corset, and showcasing the elaborate dress culture’s feminist origins from the matriarchal society of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.
This dress was highly impactful to Kahlo’s creativity, especially when she wore it to visit our own San Francisco in 1930. San Francisco was absolutely fundamental to her iconic wardrobe, both her and the city’s fashion senses were symbiotically appreciated.
“The gringas really like me a lot and pay close attention to all the dresses and rebozos that I brought with me, their jaws drop at the sight of my jade necklaces,” Kahlo enthusiastically recalled in a letter to her mother.
Having been so warmly welcomed, Kahlo collected several jewelry and Chinese cloths with intricate patterns which she then incorporated into her outfits.
San Francisco also had several other contributions to Kahlo and former husband Diego Rivera's artistry.
From commissioned murals like Rivera's "Pan American Unity," to photography acclaim from Imogen Cunningham and Edward Weston, a play based on them called “The Queen of Montgomery Street,” and later influencing cultural empowerment in the 1970s, both our city and Kahlo have mutual indellible impacts.
With our historical multicultural fashion specifically, our distinct atmosphere truly sparked a passion for her to challenge disability fashion into being more than just durable and functional.
Kahlo exceptionally proved that her disadvantages would not limit or describe her as only such, instead boldly illuminating her situation and proud heritage through fabulously resplendent wardrobes which many still emulate today, such as in our city's 5 Cute And Beautiful Small Business Latinx Boutiques.
Photography by: Raymond Boyd/Getty Images