My friend Ashley recently sent me a link to an NPR piece on Cocktail Couture, an exhibit currently showing at the Rhode Island School of Design. I’m not close enough to make a visit out to see the exhibit, but after listening to the short NPR piece about the exhibit and what inspired it, I’m jealous of anyone who gets to go!
I’ve been hearing more and more about the relationship between the Prohibition era in America and its influence on women’s fashion, and I think it’s fascinating. The idea is that before Prohibition, men and women would socialize separately, with women retiring to sitting rooms to enjoy tea and delicate conversation, while men could head to a smoking room to drink brandy and light cigars. With Prohibition, suddenly the sexes socialized together in underground speakeasies, and once the Prohibition Act was repealed, cocktail culture remained, and in fact, flourished (be sure to listen to the NPR piece for more details on this!). It’s also amazing to think that it was the terrible quality of homemade Prohibition era alcohols that spurred Americans to create the mixed drink — they needed the mixers to cover up the awful taste of the bathtub gin!
Lately with shows like Mad Men and the resurgent interest in early to mid-20th century American culture, I have been so inspired by pieces and exhibits like this. I go back and forth between which decade was my favorite, because they all really have something interesting and fabulous to offer. Do you have a favorite era or time period that inspires you? Are you partial to the sparkling, short hemlines of the 1920s flapper dresses? The full, flowing cocktail dresses of the 40s? Or the elegant, ladylike glamour of the 60s?
“The Cocktail Couture exhibit is as much about attitude as anything else. Are we so very different today? Even as economic times grow harder, we long for style.”