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You ain’t seen nothin’ yet

What: ‘On aura tout vu’ presents the Galéa collection
Where: National Museum of Monaco, Villa Sauber
When: 11am-7pm, 22 June to 30 September 2011
10am-6pm, 1 October 2011 to 29 January 2012
Admission: €6, groups (minimum 15 people) €4

Afficionadoes of design will instantly recognize at least part of the title of the latest exhibition at Monaco’s New National Museum at the Villa Sauber: ‘on aura tout vu‘ – whose name roughly translates as ‘you ain’t seen nothing yet’  – have been the creative spirit behind some of the world’s greatest couturiers, including Lacroix, Dior and Givenchy. Since 1995 they have developed their own range of pret-a-porter, accessories, design objects and cosmetics, and today are responsible for a wide range of co-branded products with some of the greatest Parisian institutions such as Caron, Le Moulin Rouge, La Maison Fabre, and the Galerie de l’Opéra de Paris.

Now, in an extraordinary collaboration with the National Museum of Monaco, chief designers Livia Stoianova and Yassen Samouilov are breathing new life into one of Monaco’s most famous attractions – the Galéa collection of dolls and automata, by showing off the original mannequins alongside their own amazing 21st century creations.

This Lilliput-sized version of the real world will appeal to everyone interested in seeing how fashions have changed between the 19th century and today – with some fantastic juxtapositions like this one showing the contemporary nightclub scene and its equivalent – a Second Empire ‘rout’.

Clubbing – 21st and 19th century-style!

Madeleine de Galéa was born in Réunion, the French island off the coast of East Africa. Brought up in Paris, she became a lover of Second Empire style and of antique dolls’ costumes in particular. Widowed at a tragically young age, she began to collect in earnest, first traditional porcelain dolls and later an unrivalled pageant of accessories and furniture.

At a time when the world was becoming fascinated with robotics, she extended her already vast collection to included animated puppets and automata, and towards the end of her life hosted frequent elegant tea parties attended by her devoted guests, and robots dressed in – among other items – scottish tartan.

For all the eccentricity of this venture, Mme de Galéa is today remembered as one of the great collectors, whose unerring eye for the quirky and unusual was tempered by a genuine fascination for fashion. After Mme de Galéa’s death in 1956, the collection was offered in its entirety to – and accepted by – HSH Prince Rainier III, who himself displayed a similar passion for collecting, as Monaco’s museum of automobiles testifies. The Villa Sauber, now newly refurbished as the National Museum of Monaco, became home to her collection.

So it’s appropriate that ‘on aura tout vu’, in conjunction with the Villa Sauber, has taken the opportunity to revive the collection in the National Museum of Monaco’s latest exhibition in its ‘Looking Up’ series, initiated by British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare. The aim of the series is to connect the often bizarre world of Monaco’s history with the wider artistic visions of today.

Last year’s hugely successful Shonibare exhibition placed his ‘anti-colonial’ art in the context of the aristocratic Monaco of the the late 19th century.  The aim of this display is similar, comparing some of Mme de Galéa ‘s most exquisite objects with today’s fashion designs. Since 2002, ‘on aura tout vu’ have displayed their fantastic creations twice a year on the catwalks of the French capital. This latest extravaganza, in Monaco, is rather different but just as thrilling!

This article was originally published in CityOut Monaco

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