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Drawing on style: A retrospective of fashion as art

The fashion illustrations of Rosemary Burke will be the subject of an exhibit at JRB Art at the Elms throughout February.
by Heather Warlick Modified: January 31, 2013 at 2:36 pm •  Published: January 29, 2013
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From 1985 to 1995, Burke's line art illustrations of Balliets fashions graced the pages of The Oklahoman and other publications in advertisements for Balliets, bringing the latest styles to the eyes of the Oklahoma City women who would wear them.

“Line art was very much en vogue at the time,” said Bob Benham, owner of Balliets. “She was a remarkably talented illustrator and captured the mood of the store and the attitude of the clothes perfectly.”

Thumbing through the hundreds of illustrations she created for Balliets, Burke said she remembers each outfit clearly: the designer, the color, the texture.

Though she doesn't consider herself a fashionista, Burke said she's been drawing girls and clothes since she was a young girl. When drawing she said she always started with the eyes. She'd choose trendy hairstyles from fashion magazines.

Burke was a devotee of Stavrinos, an Illustrator for Bergdorf Goodman in the late '70s.

Many of the fashions Burke drew look surprisingly current, though they're from the '80s and '90s.

“Style is timeless if it's well executed,” Benham said. “I think good taste is eternal.”

Burke said she intentionally drew her models as friendly, approachable looking people, to offset the fact that the clothing they were selling was, for some, out of budget.

“They sort of became my people,” Burke said. She wanted women to identify with the women in her drawings, rather than compare themselves as they often do with live models.

by Heather Warlick
Life & Style Editor
Since graduating from University of Central Oklahoma with a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism, Staff Writer Heather Warlick has written stories for The Oklahoman's Life section. Her beats have included science, health, home and garden, family,...
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