Drawn to Fashion: The Illustrations of Mary Mitchell

“I have always thought fashion illustration is a truly challenging discipline…Mary is a true artist, elegant and masterful. Her illustrations have enriched the experience of our time, and brought joy to the mind’s eye,” wrote designer Oscar de la Renta of Mary Mitchell in the foreword of her new book, Drawn to Fashion: Illustrating Three Decades of StyleWhen one of the top designers of the last century takes the time to write the foreword to your new book, people take notice.

In bygone eras before Photoshop, designer collaborations and fast fashion, illustrators played a key part in advertising through fashion illustration. Mary Mitchell worked locally throughout the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s illustrating the fashions of classic Omaha clothiers such as Topp’s, Goldstein Chapman, Hertzberg’s, Zoob’s and numerous others.

On January 28th, a must see exhibition opens at the Durham Museum featuring the work of Mitchell in conjunction with her new book. Not only for fans of fashion, this exhibit is a chance for locals to travel back through time into Omaha’s rich retail history. Along with quotes from de la Renta, exhibit goers will experience a special video presentation about the illustrator narrated by filmmaker and Omaha native Alexander Payne.

The exhibition will showcase 150 of Mitchell’s drawings along with period clothing and other artifacts on loan from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln’s collection. The illustrator’s book will be available in the Durham Museum’s gift shop or through the University of Nebraska Press. Book sale proceeds will benefit the Mary Mitchell Fashion Illustration Scholarship Fund at the Textile, Clothing, and Design Department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. To make a donation to the scholarship fund, visit drawntofashion.com.

Drawn to Fashion: The Illustrations of Mary Mitchell will take place at the Durham Museum, located at 801 South 10th Street, from January 28th through May 27th, 2012. Admission is $8 for adults; $6 for seniors; $5 for children 3-12; and free for members and children age 2 and under. For information about The Durham Museum visit the museum’s website at durhammuseum.org.

Sarah Lorsung Tvrdik is a stylist, costumier, wife and freelance writer based in Omaha, Nebraska. Her style blog can be found at fashflood.com.

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