SERIOUS FRIDA FAN: Rolando Santana has gone to great lengths to channel Frida Kahlo in his spring collection. Of Mexican heritage and always designing with strong-powerful Kahlo-like women in mind, Santana flew to Mexico City last month to visit the artist's home Casa Azul for inspiration. The cobalt blue historic house was closed but its director gave the designer and his creative team a grand tour, detailing Kahlo's life, showing them the room where she painted, her bedroom and the bathroom that stored her casts. Santana also got a good long look at Kahlo's archives including never-before-seen clothing, purses and shoes. One skirt splattered with red paint left such an impression on Santana that he will use the detail in his new collection — subtly.
Santana was so taken by the trip that he asked his friend Yeweng Wong to paint 50 portraits of Kahlo that was sent with invitations to his Sept. 11 show. The remaining guests received printed versions of the painting.