‘Cocktail Culture’ At RISD Museum — Starts Friday

Cocktail Culture Many art museum supporters reject the modern trend toward “stunt” exhibitions which treat some aspect of popular culture as art, and some of these shows are truly atrocious. That superhero thing at the New York Met comes to mind. But I, for one, can’t wait to check out the new ‘Cocktail Culture’ show opening Friday at the RISD Museum.

Cocktail Culture: Ritual and Invention in American Fashion, 1920-1980 is one of the largest exhibitions of costume and textiles in the RISD Museum’s history. From Prohibition to disco, cocktails and fashion ritualized the passage of time, and helped men and women navigate the sweeping social changes that defined 20th- century American life. Cocktail culture—and the fashion that defined it—succeeded in unifying diverse groups of people while providing a means of vibrant personal expression. The exhibition opens Friday and runs through Sunday, July 31.

Interesting that they stop at 1980. That would be roughly the time that Americans began their tedious, puritanical, forced march to “wellness” — when the insipid white wine spritzer made its first appearance signaling the decline of modern American civilization.

This new exhibition includes more than 220 objects, including clothing, jewelry, textiles, and decorative and fine art drawn from the Museum’s vast holdings and loans from other museums and private collections. The array of apparel—stunning in breadth and quality—represents the century’s major designers, such as Elizabeth Arden, Coco Chanel, Christian Dior, Oscar de la Renta, Hubert de Givenchy, Norman Norell, and Elsa Schiaparelli, to name a few.

Cocktail Culture opens Friday, April 15, RISD Museum of Art, 224 Benefit Street, 401.454.6500

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