Opinions & Features November 28, 2019 at 05:00 pm

They designed gowns for senators, these black females were remarkable fashion designers in the 1900s

Theodora Aidoo | Staff Writer

Theodora Aidoo November 28, 2019 at 05:00 pm

November 28, 2019 at 05:00 pm | Opinions & Features

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Ann Lowe, Dressmaker, designer, seamstress, couturier and businesswoman – Pic Creditamericanhistory.si.edu

Ann Lowe

More than 65 years later, the 1953 wedding of Jacqueline Bouvier and then-Sen. John F. Kennedy is still being talked about and adjudged “the most beautiful wedding ever.”

The first lady wore one of the most beautifully designed wedding dresses in modern history and it was created by Black designer Ann Lowe.

John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier on their wedding day, 1953 – Pic Credit: Toni Frissell

Ann Lowe was born and raised in Clayton, her great-grandmother was an enslaved woman. Her mother and grandmother were both seamstresses to wealthy Alabama elites and as a child, she used to design clothes with her mother’s scraps.

When Lowe was 16 her mother died, and the teenage girl had to finish her mother’s contracts. Despite segregation at New York fashion school, she excelled and Lowe’s skill for designing gowns made her invaluable to New York Society, and in 1968 she became the first Black woman to own a shop on a luxury retail strip.

Lowe’s sought-after designs were a favorite among high society matrons from the 1920s to the 1960s. While, Jackie Kennedy Onassis’s wedding gown is on view at the Kennedy Library in Boston, Massachusetts and 12 of Lowe’s gowns were on display during the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in 2016.

Lowe died in February 25, 1981.


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