Frida Kahlo Blooms at the New York Botanical Garden

The iconic Mexican artist Frida Kahlo (1907 – 1954), known for her love of sunflowers, nature, and life, and her use of botanicals in her artwork, is undeniably having her ‘moment’ as of late. There have been a number of major Kahlo themed events around the world and the latest is the New York Botanical Garden’s “Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, and Life”, which runs through November 1st.

Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul (Blue House)

The wonderful, multi-disciplinary exhibition, which explores the way in which Mexico’s plants and flowers inspired her artwork, includes among other things, 14 of Kahlo’s original works; a reproduction of her studio and the garden in her Mexico City home, Casa Azul (Blue House), and photographs from her life.

Frida Garden

But while the show actually opened last month, Frida herself really came to life Thursday night during the course of the NYBG’s 41 Annual Conservatory Ball, dubbed “A Night in Coyoacan”. The evening of cocktails in the Perennial Garden, followed by dinner and dancing in the glass enclosed Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, had a Mexican flavor (literally, down to the drinks and cuisine).

Alexandra Lebenthal in Carolina Herrera

It benefitted Children’s Education and Plant Research and Conservation Programs at the NYBG ($1.6 million was raised). Gala Chairmen were Ann Johnson, Alexandra Lebenthal, Gillian Miniter, Deborah Goodrich Royce, and Carolina Herrera, whose company fittingly sponsored the event.

Carolina Herrera

Quite frankly, this was a match made in heaven since the designer, known for her love of nature, has admitted to having long been inspired by Frida’s “vibrant use of color, sense of proportion, and her whimsical style all her own”. In addition, Herrera also sponsored the exhibition in the LuEsther T. Mertz Library’s Art Gallery, which showcases 14 of the artist’s paintings and works on paper. In fact, the designer’s third largest market is Kahlo’s hometown, Mexico City, where she staged last fall’s runway show this past November.

Jennifer Napier Nolan in Carolina Herrera

There’s no question that from a fashion standpoint, the best events are those that have at their heart, a good fashion theme, and this certainly describes last night, as it was obvious many of the women (there were over 600 guests) took the evening’s theme (and sponsor) to heart sartorially. The NYBG’s gardens (where cocktails were served to the music of a mariachi band), and the glass enclosed Enid A. Haupt Conservatory (with its pathways strewn with colorful sunflowers, palms, cacti, marigolds, fuchsia, and oleander, where guests passed through on their way to dinner), provided a perfect backdrop for the exuberant fashions on display.

Brenda Diaz de la Vega in Carolina Herrera

A large majority of the guests channeled Frida by wearing something with a floral or botanical motif, or by adding flowers to their hair (a Kahlo signature). And quite a few paid homage to Carolina Herrera, by wearing one of her beautiful dresses, which were perfectly suited to the evening.

Constance Jablonski, Carolina Herrera de Baez, Patricia  Herrera Lansing
& Marina Rutherford

Among those in the latter camp: Carolina herself (who wore a sunflower yellow floor length shirt dress embroidered with black flowers from her resort 2016 collection); her two daughters, Patricia Herrera Lansing and Carolina Herrera de Baez; Alexandra Lebenthal; Michelle Salas; Jennifer Napier Nolan; Jean Shafiroff; Emmy Rossum; Brenda Diaz de la Vega.

 Marilyn Kirschner with Jean Shafiroff
wearing Carolina Herrera

In the meanwhile, for me, this served as a perfect excuse to wear one of my fabulous vintage hand painted 50’s Mexican circle skirts, which are always wonderful, especially this time of the year. What I love is that they are authentic, truly unique, and no two are alike. And they are readily available at vintage shops and websites, and of course, on and on

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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