The Exhibition

Now that 130 years have passed since her birth (in Kazan, Russia, in 1894), the time has come to talk about Gala. And we do so by way of a novel discourse stitched together through fashion. An exhibition conceived in three seasons, that includes key pieces from her personal collection, in which haute couture designs by Christian Dior and Elsa Schiaparelli rub shoulders with outfits from Givenchy or Oleg Cassini, but also with label-free garments which remind us that her image goes far beyond the label, and is the reflection of a unique personality, free of constraints, who, above all, always remained true to herself.

The exhibition project, fruit of the collaboration between the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation and La Roca Village, is part of a wider initiative informed by a desire to rediscover Gala Dalí’s identity and assess her impact on fashion, culture, and society.

Spring-Summer Collection

From 18th March to 2nd June 2024

It was in summer, in Cadaqués, that the meeting with Salvador Dalí that was to change everything would take place. The year was 1929 and Gala, who was then married to the poet Paul Éluard, occasioned both fascination and uneasiness, in equal parts. She was ahead of her time, and she interpreted the configuration of the modern woman better than anyone, using fashion as a form of expression in defiance of conventions. Her wild curiosity subverted current trends in favour of an androgyny that adopted masculine codes to define a new femininity.

Bathed in the sun’s light, the femme dandy of avant-garde Paris disguised herself as a muse and dazzled. The way she dressed had a poetic dimension that was almost performative, but it was also public and eminently practical. Gala, who in Éluard’s words “lives to forget”, changes her skin every day to stage the triumph of talent and consummate her own myth through Dalí. A masquerade that, like the trompe-l’œil print designed by the painter, projects a sometimes misleading, fake image. A liquid and oscillating identity – like the Mediterranean Sea, unfathomable and impossible – like the moiré of ‘tiny scales in all the colours’ of the Dior dress that she was to wear on so many occasions at Púbol.

Collection of Haute Couture

From 17th June to 22nd September 2024

Gala felt comfortable being the centre of attention. She was just sixteen when she attended her first ball, at the court of the Tsar in Moscow, wearing a red dress. A colour that expresses power, seduction, and sexuality. A symbol of chromatic liberation in the nineteen twenties, red hides the idea of an intimate, private revolution. It was Christian Dior’s favourite colour and also one of Gala’s fetishes, which she used in several Dalinian performances. 

In Paris in the early nineteen thirties couturiers, artists, architects and intellectuals moved in the same circles. They shared ideas, concepts, techniques, and languages in relation to the body and the skin – that habitable space – as the starting point for encounters and affinities that would make history: a young Christian Dior venturing to become a gallerist, Elsa Schiaparelli experimenting with surrealism and Gala seeing spaces of opportunity in which Salvador Dalí’s work could embrace new forms of expression. Eminently practical, she chose to set aside the sobriety of Chanel for the eccentric excess of Schiaparelli so as to show off and publicise Dalí’s collaboration with the Italian couturier.

During her stay in the USA, Gala invented new media skins and once again transformed her persona: from dandyism to Dior’s New Look. From an androgynous comfort to a (public) corsetting of a silhouette that represents the return to a classic femininity.  And when Gala and Dalí returned to Europe after the war, she dressed as a flower in the Musée du Louvre dress and the Saint-Ouen red coat, both from the 1949 spring-summer haute couture collection (the same year that Monsieur Dior creates his Rouge lipstick).

Autumn-Winter Collection

From 7th October 2024

Two sentences penned by Breton in 1922 urged people to rebel against routine: Lâchez tout. Partez sur les routes – “Leave everything. Take to the roads”. Nomadism and change defined Gala’s whole conception of life (and of fashion), in that constant coming and going between Paris and Cadaqués, between New York and Italy.

In the age of the great ocean liners, going on board and disembarking were memorable moments. Gala and Dalí knew how to turn the gangways of those giants of the sea into a catwalk, a show that would ensure banner headlines. That first trip to New York, in November 1934, marked the beginning of the conquest of America. For decades, every winter, their suite at the St. Regis hotel became their home… and their display case. Beyond museums, their life revolved around happenings, performances and publicity. A strategy that Gala adapted to her media image (or public alter ego), with outfits from Arthur Falkenstein (the artistic circle’s favourite American label) or Howard Greer (couturier to Hollywood’s Golden Age, who designed the very young Gloria Vanderbilt’s wedding gown).

The Visible Trace of Gala Dalí

Artistic project by Jordi Bernadó

The legend of Gala Dalí stalks, invisible, the rooms of the castle of Púbol. Converted into the stage for the muse-cum-performer’s performances, the castle is now a topography of spectral traces: Gala’s memory inhabits the place and haunts it, pulling the strings of the show like a stage director. Hers was an ambivalent choreography: at once creator and muse, both woman and ghost. The legacy of a complex and irreverent mind lives on in the castle and, above all, in the outfits she wore as an aspect of her personal fiction. Pieces by Dior, Givenchy, Oleg Cassini and Loewe, among others. Designs that are the most essential gesture of Gala Dalí the character, the most intimate mask, the first layer of her theatricality.

Jordi Bernadó takes us inside Púbol in the footsteps of Gala and her fashion collection. The pictures focus on the dresses, portrayed as if the presence of the wearer were filtered through each one. The photographs act as mediating surfaces, portals that connect the costume with the body.

The journey to discover Gala’s identity continues in La Roca Village, where Bernadó plays with the ambivalences of the muse, in an exhibition project that links the eyes of the viewer with those of the absent myth.

The exhibition in images

  • Robert Descharnes. Salvador Dalí and Gala at their home in Portlligat, 1958
    Photo R. Descharnes / © Descharnes & Descharnes sarl 2024
  • Horst P. Horst. Gala, 1943
    Horst P. Horst, Vogue, ©Condé Nast
  • Robert Descharnes. Gala posing as a model for Salvador Dalí’s painting Battle in the Clouds, 1979
    Photo R. Descharnes / © Descharnes & Descharnes sarl 2024
  • Oleg Cassini (New York). Blouse, c. 1958. White Stag (Portland). Trousers, 1950s. Necklace with enamel flowers, s. XX
  • Matching dress and jacket with trompe-l’œil print by Salvador Dalí, c. 1948
  • G. Sinigaglia (Venezia). Marinière, 1950s
  • Hubert de Givenchy (Paris). Cocktail dress, c. 1952

Why visit the exhibition?

  • ‘Gala leaning against an olive tree in Cadaqués, beckoning to me; Gala in late summer stooping to pick up a gleaming mica pebble amid the rocks of Cape Creus.’ Salvador Dalí
  • ‘I want to go down in history as a legend. When all this is over, when everything that is murky now is clean, when time has passed, people will talk about me for good or ill. But right now I do not want anything to be said.’ Gala
  • ‘This exhibition brings us closer to Gala through her valuable collection of clothing. The selected designs reflect a unique personality, contradictory, chameleon-like, cosmopolitan, ahead of its time… And they also speak to us about fashion as a means of asserting one’s identity and presenting oneself to others.’ Montse Aguer Director of the Dalí Museums
  • ‘Our commitment to supporting art, creativity, and talent and our passion for fashion are clearly embodied in the exhibition The Awakening of the Myth: Gala Dalí. It is a privilege to collaborate with the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation and contribute to a fuller appreciation of the woman and the myth, and thus to discover, through her personal collection of outfits, Gala’s personality in all her mystery and strength.’ Elena Foguet Business Director of Value Retail for Spain
  • ‘In her search for identity, Gala constructed herself by means of the image that others projected of her. But, in this process, she also exercised an active role. She decided how she wanted to show herself to the world, dressing as a muse, a wife, a performer, agent… And in this sense, the clothes in her wardrobe that she showed off and kept for decades have a great deal to say.’ Noelia Collado and Bea Crespo Curators of the exhibition