Ann Lowe

For Black History Month it is usually the norm to celebrate those with the biggest names like Rosa Parks and Malcolm X. But there are others who created milestones in Black history that deserve to be celebrated. One such trailblazer is fashion designer Ann Lowe.

In 1953, Lowe designed Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ wedding dress for her marriage to John F. Kennedy. The iconic dress was constructed out of 50 yards of ivory silk taffeta. As the story goes, just ten days before the wedding ceremony a water line broke in Lowe’s New York City studio and ruined the former First Lady’s gown along with all of her bridesmaids dresses. But that didn’t stop Lowe, she worked tirelessly to recreate all eleven designs in time for the Rhode Island nuptials! Yet the only mention Lowe received by name was a blurb in the Washington Post where fashion editor Nine Hyde simply wrote “… the dress was designed by a Negro, Ann Lowe.”

Jackie O wasn’t Ann Lowe’s first famous client however. Lowe also designed for New York society families like the Rockefellers and the Vanderbilts. The talented fashion designer also created the gown that actress Olivia de Havilland wore when she accepted the Oscar for Best Actress in 1946. Ann also blazed trails when she opened her own boutique section, Ann Lowe Originals, inside the Saks Fifth Ave department store on Madison Avenue in New York in the 1960s.

Sadly Ann Lowe, who passed away in 1981 at age 83, never truly received the recognition she deserved for her contributions to fashion history, but the indelible mark of her amazing work still lives on in the permanent archives at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Black Fashion Museum, The Smithsonian and in the hearts of fashion lovers everywhere. So let’s give it up for fashion designer to the stars Ann Lowe, a pioneer whose stamp on the fashion world will never be forgotten.

  • Guest1234

    Great story! I had no idea about any of this. This was all news to me. I’m going to look up Ann Lowe right now to learn more about this amazing designer – that gown was GORGEOUS. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Anthony

    That’s a cool bit of history! This is the sort of success we need to celebrate more often.

  • Anonin

    This is awesome I wish there was a tumblr post to this or something. People go on for days about jackies fashion so this is iconic info

  • Ask_ME

    I knew about Ms. Lowe. When she showed up to deliver Jackie O’s wedding dress she was told to go around to the back door. Ms. Lowe replied, “If I have to use the back door the bride won’t be getting her dress.” They promptly let her in through the front door.

  • http://sownbrooklyn.com Wanett

    LOVE THIS!! As a seamstress, and a black woman (of course) I always find these kinds of stories so encouraging!! Thanks for sharing!

  • http://twitter.com/JustLakeshia Lakeshia (@JustLakeshia)

    I loved this!! Her impact on fashion is still felt/talked about and I hate that most never knew the face behind the look.

  • http://defendingmoney.wordpress.com Marketing Gimmicks

    Amazing fact! Didn’t know this at all!

  • LadyP

    Yes, she is a pioneer. What a great little black known history to know and share. It’s also a reminder of how well Black women crafted the skill of designing and being a seamstress. As I read this article, I’m thinking of my mother. She is one of the best seamstresses I know. At my BF wedding, one of the bridesmaids split the side of her dress. Yes, her dress was too tight and yes, we were hysterical. But my mom (always keeping a thread and needle in her purse) had taken some extra cloth from the bottom of the matron-of –honor’s dress. Made a new design for her dress and sown that material to the bridesmaid dress with the spilt. It was very fashionable, quick and the matron’ dress actually looked better. My mom only asked for some scissors. Her dress was changed over to an asymmetrical design. Those women were so talented and I know there are more out there. This is truly our industry – not to make it racial. I’m just thinking about how gifted they were/are.

    Looking forward to sharing this article and the pictures with my mom…I loove this black history fact. I’ve seen the stunning Jacqueline’s wedding dress, but I didn’t know this history behind it. Thanks for sharing!!!

  • The Comment

    I want all these hidden treasures made into a movie! Look @ those glasses…I would love some unknown artist to have a breakout role playing this lady in those glasses!

    Is this too much to ask for?

  • Rue.

    Can I say BOOM!!!!!!

  • GlowBelle

    Love this post and glad to learn about Ms. Lowe! She’s a true inspiration.

    Clutch should have more articles like this…not just for Black History Month, but all year round. Keep ‘em coming!

  • Anthony

    LadyP, that’s a great story about your Mom.

  • Smitty Werbenjagermanjensen

    Agreed.

  • http://gravatar.com/eynapanirb B.Payne

    Thanks for sharing this bit of history…This was good to know.

  • http://gravatar.com/nolakiss16 binks

    I agree too! I would love for little tidbits like this to keep coming. Ann Lowe is a classic inspiration that should be a house hold name with a lot of other notable designers!

  • Fox

    Nice! Makes me proud. This is the type of black history that will inspire people.

  • Pingback: Little Known Black History Fact: Ann Lowe Designed Jacqueline Kennedy’s Wedding Dress « Good Black News

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