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 eventually settled in Omaha, where she became a successful fashion illustrator. Her collected works are the exclusive subject of a 2012 exhibition at Omaha’s Durham Museum. Jenna Gabrial Gallagher is a writer and editor who coauthored Harper’s Bazaar: Greatest Hits. She regularly writes for Bazaar and other luxury publications.
Drawn to Fashion: Illustrating Three Decades of Styleby Mary Mitchell
In this era of nationally produced Sunday circulars, artistry in advertising is a rare luxury. But until the 1980s, clothing retailers regularly hired skilled illustrators to draw their merchandise for local papers. Without the benefit of color, these artists conveyed the most striking “buy me” details of an outfit with no more than a pencil and sheer talent. Their true contribution, however, goes beyond merchandising. It is an important part of fashion history.
Mary Mitchell was the foremost illustrator in Omaha in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, counting the city’s most revered temples of style among her clients. After newspapers switched to photography, Mitchell lovingly preserved her archive of more than one thousand works. She presents many of them, as well as newer, color pieces, in Drawn to Fashion. With the unique authority that only a half-century in the industry brings, Mitchell also discusses her personal technique, the challenges she faced, and the state of fashion illustration today.
Written in conjunction with an exhibition at Omaha’s Durham Museum, proceeds from this book will benefit the Mary Mitchell Fashion Illustration Scholarship Fund at the Textile, Clothing and Design Department at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. For more information on the exhibition, visit the Durham Museum's Web site.
- Mary Mitchell Illustrations LLC
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