Frida Kahlo: A Style Inspiration

Frida Kahlo is a true legend that clearly needs no introduction. Despite a lifetime of obstacles and pain, she was an ingenious and inimitable painter as well as a resilient and passionate lover of life. She had devoted all of her kaleidoscopic ways to her idiosyncratic art, countless tempestuous affairs, and more importantly, love. But today we are going to focus on her iconic dress sense which continues to dazzle and inspire even to this day.

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Maxi Dress & Skirt with a Twist

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Frida contracted polio at the age of 6, which stunted the growth of her right leg, and experienced a dreadful trolley accident as a teenager, which left her bedridden for almost a year. Because of this series of unfortunate events, she opted for maxi dresses and skirts partially intended to disguise her imperfections. In addition, the vibrant colors of nature in her garden not only inspired her paintings, but also the eclectic patterns in her unique choices of clothing.

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Valentino Resort Collection 2015

Anything Frill

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Natives of the South of Mexico, Frida and the Tehuana dress had an inseparable link. She was almost always seen in a Tehuana dress with the beautiful white frill, implying her tremendous pride in her vivid Mexican heritage and deep-rooted attachment to her country.  It also contributed to the colorful composition of her abundant self-portraits which made her one of the most significant surrealist painters of all time. Moreover, we have to admit that a beautiful flowing dress with a frilly hemline has an incredibly feminine flair and flirtatious touch.

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Valentino Resort Collection 2015

Rebozo / Giant Scarf 

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A Rebozo is a traditional Mexican scarf. Frida wore it constantly, suggesting her immense vulnerability and self-consciousness. Nonetheless, they are usually called shawls in other parts of the world and you can see them in every Parisian corner. It is the perfect transitional piece and a must-have in your fall and winter collection. Wear a big bright-hued scarf with your minimalist outfit to add some extra color and warmth.

Statement Jewelry

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I used to purchase a lot of earrings whenever I went to a boutique because they are my favorite type of jewelry. I bought feather earrings, indigenous culture inspired earrings, rhinestone earrings…pretty much any kind you could think of. But now I just wear my tiny Chanel clovers because I have grown too lazy to take them off before showers (I know, I know…It’s such a bad habit). Regardless, a distinctive piece of statement jewelry can easily brighten up your entire outfit. A plain black sweater may be a bit boring? Add a turquoise necklace. Having a bad hair day? Wear a pair of statement earrings to draw more attention to your beautiful features.

Floral Headpiece 

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The signature look of Frida was an ensemble of a slightly updated Tehuana dress and a tightly braided bun with a floral headpiece. The flowers brought out her intense, brooding eyes and their vivacity was pertinent to Frida’s inherent pain and dark beauty. Although it seems unrealistic to wear a floral headband in daily life, it is a splendid addition to your festival outfits or wedding gowns.

Strong Brows

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I have naturally very thin eyebrows which have been kinda of bothering me since I entered adolescence. For those who are blessed with thick brows, I have only one advice: “NEVER overly pluck them.” They are so beautiful and add great definition to your face. I am not gonna say, “Oh look at Cara Delevingne or any other “It girl” with thick brows.” But keep in mind, looking more “au naturel” is always better for any age.

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Love and Passion @ Rodin Musuem

“I am beautiful, O mortals! Like a dream carved in stone,
And my breast where each one in turn has bruised himself
Is made to inspire in the poet a love
As eternal and silent as matter.” 

– Charles Baudelaire

 

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This delightful gem of a museum felt like a quiet oasis where I could get away from the usual crowds in Paris. I loved wandering in the gardens and discovering statues around each turn. The installation at Rodin Museum is the largest collection focusing on the work of French sculpture Auguste Rodin, as this year marks the hundredth anniversary of his death. Participating museums include the Met and another Philadelphia institution, the Barnes Foundation, among others.

There is a reason why so many museums are working to commemorate Rodin. He’s an unparalleled figure and one of few sculptors whose works are readily recognizable. Rodin’s work is known for its realistic modeling of the human form. He captured truth, depth, and the fluid motion of life in the most unlikely of mediums.

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The exhibition brings out Rodin’s love for “exploring what it means to be human. The figures in the gallery are posed and intertwined:  some spiraling, others flailing and still more arching outward. They show a multiplicity of emotions, such as shame, guilt, adoration, lust, fear and caring, that are possible only through Rodin’s obsession with the human form. The museum’s central gallery has been completely reconfigured with embracing and struggling lovers in marble, plaster, and bronze. The stark nudity, made all the more compelling by the anonymous, suggests unfettered ardor of the female.

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In 1912, Rodin said, “People have often accused me of having made erotic sculptures. I have never made any erotic works. I have never made a sculpture for the sake of the erotic element. Most of the people cannot conceive this because they are unable to conceive what sculpture is because they are forever looking in sculpture for literary and philosophical ideas. Sculpture is the art of forms.” The whole collection tells a hot-blooded story of lust and power and even tenderness. That Rodin was in love with passionate energy becomes abundantly clear. Rodin is sharing with us a catalog of passion. It’s a theme he comes back to again and again and again…

What is it like to be A Freelance “Model” in Paris?

I have been one of those people who look at the photographs taken by someone else and recoil in horror, and I still am, sometimes. I can point out a million things I hate: my hair is sometimes flat, my forehead is greasy, and I have nowhere to hide my chubby Asian cheeks.

By no stretch of the imagination could I become a model. A model is someone you gaze admiringly at in fashion magazines, on billboards, and in boutique windows. They always have beautiful  bouncy hair, a flawless complexion, and perfectly airbrushed bums. However, not long after I moved to Paris, a city that places beauty and art above anything else, I started taking photographs for a number of talented photographers and have found the experience surprisingly pleasant and rewarding.

I was lucky. My photoshoot was smooth-sailing and easy. It was a kind and skilled French photographer Yann who reached out to me on Instagram. I arrived at his apartment/photo studio near Republique in my winter clothes and minimal makeup. We had a brief exchange on Whatsapp and found out that he has been working in the music industry and now as a professional photographer who looks for “models” to enrich his diverse portfolio.

I am not going to lie. I was beyond nervous but Yann made the entire process seem so simple. We took some portraits and had one change of outfits that I brought. During the session, his girlfriend Mathilde arrived home who turned out to be a Chinese graphic designer, which made it even easier for us to communicate and carry out a more pleasant shoot. The next week, we did another photoshoot at my studio in Le Marais which was slightly more “risque”. Yann and Mathilde never failed to provide great creative ideas and the shoot lasted nearly four hours. Here is Yann’s website. http://rithbanney.com. Feel free to check it out!

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After the first shoot with a great photographer, it only gets easier and easier. I am fortunate because so far the photographers I have worked with are very kind and professional. Despite my broken French, I never encountered any communication problem or have managed to remain friends with the photographers.

Tips

I am a “modele debutante” but I do have some valuable tips for those who are interested in starting modeling on a freelance basis.

Be professional. Have clear communication before each shoot and show up prepared when you say you will. Stand your ground and do it with grace and professionalism. Always arrive on time, reply all email in a timely manner, and answer every phone call.

Set your limits but do not limit yourself. What are you willing to do or not do? Are you okay with nudes? Lingerie? Video? Fetish? Stick to what you have agreed to for the shoot and say no if you feel uncomfortable as most would understand. However, be open to new ideas. When you submit your portfolio to freelance gigs, do not limit yourself to one category; rather, expand your horizon and actively converse with photographers about new interesting ideas.

Build a portfolio. This one is not necessarily mandatory but if you’re more serious, a portfolio will help you reach out to more photographers and potentially build your own network. Having a website of your own would give you the best platform to list details of your experience & background and promote yourself to potential clients. Having your profile in social networks will boost your online credentials Also think about what genres and styles you prefer and perhaps state your preferences in your portfolio.

Stay optimistic. Your positive and fun attitude would be welcome by clients and photographers that choose to work with you. At the same time, be prepared for the worst. Stay cool even in a negative environment, never badmouth anyone, or do not exchange heated words with a client when things are getting out of control.