Jill Denise

BlogCelebrating Black History Month: The Legacy and Trailblazing Talent of Haute Couture Designer Ann Lowe

Celebrating Black History Month: The Legacy and Trailblazing Talent of Haute Couture Designer Ann Lowe

Known for her elegant and intricate designs, Lowe was one of the first prominent African-American fashion designers, creating haute couture gowns for elite clients, including Jacqueline Kennedy.

In 1898, Ann Lowe was born in Clayton, Alabama. She was also born into a world of creativity and craftsmanship. From a young age, she showed a remarkable talent for fashion design. Ann honed her skills under the guidance of grandmother, Georgia Tompkins, and her mother Janey Lowe, who made dresses for Southern society women. Janey Lowe died in 1914 when Lowe was sixteen. At the time of her death Janey Lowe was working on four ball gowns for the First Lady of Alabama, Elizbeth Kirkman O’Neal. Ann finished the dresses.

In 1912 when she was fourteen, Lowe married Lee Cohen with whom she had a son, Arthur Lee. Lowe’s husband wanted her to give up working as a seamstress but she left him after she was hired to design a wedding dress for a woman in Florida. In 1917, 19-year-old Lowe and her son moved to New York City, New York where she enrolled at St. Taylor Design School. The segregated school required Lowe to attend classes in a room alone. After graduating from St. Taylor Design School in 1919, Lowe and her son moved to Tampa, Florida. The following year, she opened her first dress salon “Annie Cohen.” Despite facing numerous obstacles as a black woman in the predominantly white world of fashion, Anne’s talent could not be denied. She pursued her passion relentlessly, eventually opening her own boutique in New York City in the heart of Manhattan’s bustling Garment District. In 1928, Lowe returned to New York City after saving $20,000 of her earnings. While there, she began to work on commission for Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Henri Bendel, Chez Sonia, and other prominent retailers.

In 1946, Lowe designed the dress that actress Olivia de Havilland wore to accept the Academy Award for Best Actress. In 1950, Lowe and her son opened a second salon called Ann Lowe’s Gowns, on New York City’s Lexington Avenue. Here Lowe created designs for some of the most prestigious families in the nation including the Rockefellers, the Lodges, the DuPonts, the Posts, and the Biddles.

The Wedding Dress

It was a chance encounter with a young bride that would forever change Anne’s destiny. Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, then engaged to John F. Kennedy, sought out Anne to create her wedding gown for the upcoming nuptials. With meticulous attention to detail and an unwavering commitment to excellence, Anne poured her heart and soul into crafting the gown of Mrs. Kennedy’s dreams. The result was a masterpiece of silk taffeta and bouffant skirts, adorned with intricate embroidery and delicate lace, fit for a future First Lady. In 1953, the world watched in awe as Jacqueline Kennedy walked down the aisle in Anne Lowe’s breathtaking creation, a symbol of grace, beauty, and timeless elegance. Despite her remarkable success of creating the 1953 wedding gown and bridal party dresses for Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, Lowe did not receive any public acknowledgment at the time.

During her career, Lowe worked for wealthy clients who often persuaded her to charge hundreds of dollars less for her work than her competitors. Eventually in 1962, she lost the salon in New York City after failing to pay taxes. That same year, her right eye was removed due to glaucoma. Lowe also developed a cataract in her left eye which was saved by surgery. In 1968, at the age of 70, Lowe opened a new store called Ann Lowe Originals, on Madison Avenue.  She retired two years later in 1972. Nine years later, Ann Lowe died on February 25, 1981.

Throughout her career, Anne continued to push the boundaries of fashion, creating exquisite designs that celebrated the beauty and diversity of women of all backgrounds. Her legacy lives on today, inspiring a new generation of designers to follow their dreams and pursue their passions, no matter the odds. Anne Lowe may have started as a young girl with a needle and thread, but she will forever be remembered as a visionary artist whose creations transcended time and left an indelible mark on the world of fashion.

For more information on the captivating story of Ann Lowe, check out the following video:

We would like to extend our gratitude to blackpost.org for providing valuable insights and information that contributed to the content of this blog post. Their expertise and resources have helped us provide a comprehensive perspective on the topic at hand. We highly recommend visiting their website for further exploration of Ann Lowe.

#Jill Denise