Style Court

Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes 2006-2016


Connecting Threads (More Frida)

[Detail: Another look at the very recent collaboration between Madewell and JM Drygoods, this time with hand-embroidery by artisans from the San Vicente Coatlán community in Oaxaca.]

I'm a little envious of the Wellesley students in James Oles's Frida Kahlo seminar. After hearing him speak at the NYBG's symposium, Frida Kahlo & Diego Rivera: Mexican Art in the 20th Century (the entire talk is up on the Garden's YouTube channel), I was left wanting to learn more.

[Frida Kahlo by Fritz Henle 1936]

His focus was Kahlo's cross-dressing but not the sort that initially comes to mind. While she did famously don menswear, what Dr. Oles zeroed in on was her cross-cultural cross-dressing. You know, the indigenous Tehuana garb among other things. And with sharp insights and dry humor, Oles makes the point that Kahlo certainly wasn't the first rather elite woman--or man--to take fashion inspiration from the working class. From huaraches to huipils, Oles explores a range of trad Mexican and Mexican-inspired clothes worn way, way back by non-local Cortes as well as more recently by contemporary women.


Channeling Frida

[Another nod to traditional Oaxacan craft: JM Drygoods collaborated with Madewell on this limited-edition chambray shirt hand-embroidered by a team of women in San Vicente Coatlán. Just my own pick inspired by the NYBG show.]

Mexican textiles, Casa Azul (Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera's artistic lair), and Kahlo's work: all three can be explored over the next six months in the NYBG show, Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, Life.

[Catch the preview.] 

Obviously, given the venue, the show's connecting thread is Kahlo’s passion for nature but some of the special exhibition programs also speak specifically to her interest in craft. Textile Demonstrations: Female Artisans from Chipas and Oaxaca are scheduled to take place May 16–June 14 and September 11–October 12 from 10 a.m.–5 p.m. with women from Chiapas and Oaxaca on hand to share weaving and embroidery techniques. Event details here. And past Fridamania here.


Textile Scout: Yoruba Lace

[Mid-19th-century indigo cotton cloth with a panel of slit weaving known as Yoraba lace from Esther Fitzgerald. Details below.]

The pairing is genius. (As good as when salt and caramel first got together.)

[Airy and light. Hannah Henderson and kids via The Glow.]

[She wears it well, too: Aurora James in an ethereal top as seen in Vogue Paris]

[Earth-bound indigo mud cloth throw at General Store.]

Although the cotton cloth at top was made by Yoruba people well over a century ago, it combines two of fashion's current faves: lacy open-work material and earthy indigo. In his book, African Textiles, John Gillow explains that Yoruba "lace" is traditionally comprised of rows of holes along the length of a stripweave and it's a bit similar to a type of openwork sometimes called "Spanish lace." But he points out that structurally the two differ. Yoruba lace has supplementary yarns, which create the very alluring little holes, and are not actually part of the plain weave ground.