Feliz Cumpleaños, Frida Kahlo

Today is the birthday of Frida Kahlo, a great artist, feminist, and revolutionary. Frida Kahlo influenced the style of the women of Mexico and her image appears everywhere.  Her self-portraits are not only in renowned international art museums, they also appear on teeshirts, purses, beach towels, bolsas, and sarongs. She is elevated to near sainthood in Mexico. Rather ironic that a radical feminist is lifted up as an icon in a country that thrives on machismo. And, there you have it, another thing on my long list of things to love about Mexico.

The mother and daughter in this photo are two of the most interesting that I saw on our recent trip to Oaxaca. They have a store in the Centro that is named Juana Cata. The son of this family has another store on a different street, Los Baúles de Juana Cata. This store is quite famous and presents some of the finest textiles in Mexico. The mother’s store carries less expensive things, but is like going into the closet of Frida Kahlo herself. Frida was greatly influenced, not just by the politics of Juana Catalina Romero, but also by her fashion (as were most of the women of Tehuantepec, Juana Cata’s hometown near the coast). Frida began to dress in the style that Juana Cata had developed to show solidarity with the women of the Isthmus of Oaxaca.

And so, on Frida’s birthday, I send her good wishes. But, I also think about this interesting mother and daughter, who carry the flame of individual expression, and promote the fashion of their beautiful state. They keep the spirit of Juana Catalina alive, and also the spirit of Frida. And, if you visit the town of Tehuantepec today, you will find a matriarchy, all for the love of Juana Cata.

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