Did Madonna Wear Frida Kahlo’s Clothes? Fact Vs. Fiction

BY: 
Catherine A. Jones
 | May 24, 2024

Frida Kahlo made headlines this week, but it wasn’t because of her iconic self portraits, or even her bigger-than-life personality. The Mexican artist became the focal point of a controversy involving the “Queen of Pop,” Madonna herself. The controversy? Madonna’s social media post where she said she wore clothing and jewelry that once belonged to Kahlo.

Did Madonna wear Frida Kahlo’s clothes? As with any sensational story, there’s more to it than meets the eye. Here we separate the facts from the fiction.

Did Madonna wear Frida Kahlo’s clothes?

Media outlets around the world jumped on the Madonna-Frida Kahlo bandwagon, with headlines ranging from curious to accusatory. One wrote: “Madonna Borrows Frida Kahlo’s Wardrobe: A Bold Fashion Statement or Disrespect?” While another asked: “Did Madonna Really Wear Frida Kahlo’s Clothes? The Internet Is Divided!” With others asking: “Madonna’s Casa Azul Fashion Faux Pas: Did She Cross the Line?” 

Social media platforms buzzed with speculation. Fans, critics, and art enthusiasts alike weighed in, some praising Madonna’s homage to Kahlo, while others accused her of cultural appropriation and insensitivity.

“I don’t know what is worse: the audacity of allowing her to wear Frida’s sacred garments, or Madonna’s audacity and arrogance of daring to wear them,” la_marimontiel comments on Madonna’s Instagram post about Kahlo’s attire.  “Sacrilegious and unacceptable! I have visited this museum many times and I enter this temple of memories in silence and with respect for the memory of Frida’s soul. This is taking the selfie culture and cultural appropriation to an abominable level of disregard and disrespect.”

Fact Vs. Fiction

The heart of the controversy lies in a misunderstanding. Several media outlets incorrectly reported that Madonna photographed herself wearing Frida Kahlo’s garments at Casa Azul, the iconic blue house in Coyoacán, Mexico City, where Kahlo lived and created her art. Casa Azul, now the Frida Kahlo Museum, is a sacred space for admirers of the artist.

It was based on Instagram photos of Madonna wearing Mexican attire, writing “For me it was magical to try on her clothes and jewelry, to read her journals and letters and to look at photos I’d never seen before.”

However, the truth is quite different. The museum released an official statement clarifying the situation: “It is important to clarify that, unlike what was mentioned in some media, Madonna, due to time constraints in her agenda, did not manage to visit Casa Azul on her recent trip to Mexico. However, we had the opportunity for her family and staff to enjoy the museum.”

In other words, Madonna did not set foot inside Casa Azul, nor did she try on any of Frida’s personal belongings there. 

Instead Madonna did pay homage to Frida Kahlo in another way. During her Mexico City Celebration tour stop, she visited Kahlo’s family at their private home. This is where, as the Spanish outlet Reforma reported weeks ago, Madonna tried on Kahlo’s clothing and jewelry.

“When they brought her Frida’s objects, her eyes shone,” Reforma explains. “She saw an embroidered blouse and a shawl, and she told Ricardo to take a photo of her. She made him several, reviewed them and deleted about seven. Madonna put on a ring.”

Madonna spoke to the family about her admiration for Kahlo creativity and unapologetic spirit. And her controversial Instagram post this week is from this visit.

Madonna's Instagram Post

Madonna and Frida Kahlo

Madonna says her fascination with Kahlo dates back to her teenage years when she discovered the artist’s work at the Detroit Institute of Arts. Kahlo’s story — how she turned pain into art after a debilitating bus accident — captivated Madonna. The singer’s dedication to celebrating and perpetuating Kahlo’s legacy is evident in her public statements and social media posts.

The star even celebrated Kahlo on stage with a special appearance by Mexican actress Salma Hayek.

“The 57-year-old actress dressed up like the famous Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, whom she portrayed in 2002’s Frida, during the Material Girl’s pit stop in Mexico City,” the DailyMail writes.

As the Frida Kahlo Museum aptly stated, “ … The singer’s deep admiration for Frida highlights the artist’s continued relevance and also underscores how her influence transcends cultures and borders, inspiring global admirers.”

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