The Durham Museum

y 28 - May 27, 2012

“I have always thought fashion illustration is a truly challenging discipline. The very best fashion illustrations can capture the essence of a dress or even the direction of a collection. What is left out is as important as what is drawn. While I admire fashion photographers, and many are immensely talented, their work gives us a replication of what we see. Through illustration we experience instead the impression of a dress, led by emotion and the artist’s view. It is truly the more difficult art.

Mary Mitchell's prolific work includes over a thousand drawings and spans 45 years. Mary is a true artist, elegant and masterful. Her illustrations have enriched the experience of fashion in our time, and brought joy to the mind’s eye.”
Oscar de la Renta

Drawn to Fashion: The Illustrations of Mary Mitchell will be on exhibit at The Durham Museum from January 28 to May 27, 2012. This elegant exhibition celebrates the lost art of fashion illustration, Omaha’s rich retail history, and advertising during an era before Photoshop. The exhibition will showcase 150 drawings taken from the private collection of over 1,000 drawings by well-known local fashion illustrator Mary J. Mitchell. Mitchell worked for such well known Omaha clothiers as Topp’s, Goldstein Chapman, Herzbergs, Zoobs, and many others during the late 1960s, 70s, and 80s. In addition to illustrations, the display will include period clothing and other artifacts on loan from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Textile, Clothing, and Design collection. A special video presentation narrated by Alexander Payne is another highlight of the exhibition.

A booked entitled, Drawn to Fashion: Illustrating Three Decade of Style, was written in conjunction with the exhibition and is available at The Durham’s Museum Gift Shop or by calling (402)444-5071 ext. 316. Proceeds from the book sales will benefit the Mary Mitchell Fashion Illustration Scholarship Fund at the Textile, Clothing, and Design Department at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. To learn more, please visit

About the authors:
Mary Mitchell was born in Buffalo, New York, and credits her mother with inspiring her lifelong love of the arts. After marrying, Mitchell and her husband John eventually settled in Omaha, where she became a successful fashion illustrator. Jenna Gabrial Gallagher is a writer and editor who coauthored Harper’s Bazaar: Greatest Hits. She regularly writes for Bazaar and other luxury publications.