Was on a Lovecraft pilgrimage in Providence, RI today when, summoned by air conditioning, I drifted in to the Rhode Island School of Design’s Museum of Art and overheard that today is free day. So the elevator breezes me up to the third floor, the doors open, and to my left there are blown-up 1954 René Bouché illustrations for Vogue and on the wall ahead are cycling movie clips of stylish people drinking. Whoa. Ok. It’s the museum’s “Cocktail Culture” exhibit. It’s outstanding, and tomorrow’s the last day (10am-5pm).
Red silk dress with cartridge pleats from the “Cocktail Culture” exhibit at the RISD Museum of Art. Designed by Norman Norell and Anthony Traina (under the Traina-Norell label), ca. 1949. From InStyle’s great slideshow of the highlights. The exhibit ends tomorrow (July 31st).
What makes this exhibit stand out is that the clothes are put in a context. It covers the role that Prohibition, Hollywood, Harlem, WWII rationing, the increase in leisure travel and sub/urban social rituals play in cocktail culture. You walk in and the big guns are present: You’re greeted by Dior’s silk little black dress from the Fall/Winter 1954 collection, followed by Givenchy, Vionnet, Fortuny, Geoffrey Beene, Balenciaga, Paco Rabanne, etc. Along with the clothes there are accessories, furnishing textiles, furniture, party photos and the cocktail services:
Penguin cocktail shaker by Emile A. Schuelke, 1934.
If you can’t make the exhibit then absolutely go for the book:
And if you like this stuff, here’s the Lovecraft College Hill walking tour I did today:
Fleur de Lys Studio, 7 Thomas Street (1885). This house was built by Providence artist Sydney Richmond Burleigh, and was given as the home of artist Henry Anthony Wilcox in The Call of Cthulhu.
The H.P. Lovecraft memorial on Prospect St.