© Museum of Art Rhode Island School of Design
I have to admit: Few things make me happier than a well-mixed drink and a fabulous dress. But I hadn’t given much thought to how the two might be related until checking out a new exhibit at the Museum of Art at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). Called Cocktail Culture: Ritual and Invention in American Fashion, 1920-1980, the show surveys the influence tippling had on fashion and design from Prohibition through the disco era. Objects range from kitsch (a 1948 custom-made tiki bar) to fabulously functional (a 14-inch sterling silver Art Deco cocktail shaker) to super glam (a Swarovski Crystal-and-pearl necklace worn by Audrey Hepburn in the movie Sabrina). The highlight, though, is a collection of about 50 cocktail dresses, including LBDs, flapper, Mad Men-esque and ‘70s styles from the likes of Chanel, Dior and Balenciaga. It’s no secret that the rise of social drinking was liberating for those doing the sipping, but, according to RISD curators, it also pushed designers to shake off their own inhibitions. Cheers to that. – Jenna Pelletier
Cocktail Culture is on view through July 31 at RISD Museum of Art, 20 North Main St., Providence, 401-454-6500, risdmuseum.org.