Denver Art Museum to Present a Fashion Illustrations Exhibit in Spring 2018

The Denver Art Museum just announced its next big endeavor into the world of fashion with an exhibition showcasing the award-winning images created by Denver resident and fashion illustrator, Jim Howard. Known for his elaborate and artistic work in the realm of fashion illustration, Howard’s career spans the last 40 years. Drawn to Glamor: Fashion Illustrations by Jim Howard, will boast his extensive work in both fashion and art, through more than 100 works on paper. Organized by the Denver Art Museum and curated by Avenir Foundation Curator Florence Müller and senior curatorial assistant Jane Burke, the show will start with his early advertisements for Neiman Marcus as seen in the 1950s and follow his career thought the height of the ’70s and ’80s.

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Prior to the fashion industry’s shift to photography, illustrations were the only way designers and department stores could convey new trends and products to the people. Howard’s incredible work at Neiman Marcus brought him a great deal of attention and eventually, new work form the likes of Saks Fifth Avenue, Bonwit Teller, B. Altman and Company and the LA-based retailer Bullocks. Howard’s images depicted designer confections from couture houses like Dior and Yves Saint Laurent, which would end up being published in The New York Times.

“Fashion illustration as a craft has gradually disappeared in recent decades, but from 1950 to 1989 fashion illustration was the most significant way for brands to tell their story, showcase new trends and bring fashion to life,” stated Müller.

Drawn to Glamour will take place on the second floor of the Hamilton Building in the Gates Family Gallery. On view from March 25 – July 22, 2018 the exhibit will be shown in two sections. One will spotlight Howard’s life as an artist, showcasing his career from the late ’50s to early ’80s. The other section will take inspiration from retro department stores, utilizing Howard’s illustration in their natural setting. His images will be shown in a department store setting, similar to what viewers would have seen in past retail stores. The DAM will also present eight looks from their permanent collection and four looks loaned from private suppliers to showcase trends of the time.

    1. This exhibition is an insult to all the talented women who did fashion illustration for the major department stores in Denver such as Nusteters, The Denver Dry, and May D&F. Illustrators like Lucy Ornilas, Eddie Jean Purtle, Marie Zimmerman, Hobe Hammond to name a few who lost their jobs to photography. The curator of this exhibit should be ashamed for focusing on this one single male illustrator whose contribution to retail advertising was no greater than theirs. I knew all these illustrators they deserve their recognized place in Denver history by this institution.

      1. Mr. Thompson,
        I am a fellow at the Rockwell Center for American Visual Studies in Massachusetts currently researching fashion illustrator Jean Ratley Cunningham. I would love to speak with you more about the lives of female fashion illustrators as you mention you knew several? Information on the lives and careers of these women is very difficult to find, made even more difficult with unsigned commercial work. I hope to speak with you further on this subject.

  1. Hi Sarah I am sorry to be replying a year later but should still want to chat about these brilliant female illustrators I am more than happy to accommodate. You can contact me at

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