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.