Today, I discovered on IG today that Jackie Kennedy’s wedding dress was designed by an apparently very popular African-American designer of that time, Ann Lowe. I pride myself on knowing a fair amount of fashion history, but I don’t think I have ever come across her name. And it’s not surprising, apparently she was rarely given credit for her work, including being omitted from the New York Times story which featured Jackie O on its home page.
I cannot find a lot of images of Ann’s work, but I love this video I found on YouTube that talks about her life and career (see below). Her couture designs were coveted by all the major families of the time–the Rockefellers, DuPonts and others; it was Jackie’s mother, Janet Auchincloss who recommended that Ann design her daughter’s dress as well as the bridesmaids. For a while, Ann did very well and had a Manhattan boutique. It is too bad she did not continue on that path. You wonder, if she hadn’t been black, if we would all know her name. A small moment as I try to learn and share as we navigate how to move forward and broaden our conversation.
Having worked for so many years in the fashion industry, I wonder why you just discovered Anne Lowe.
Hopefully you will continue to broaden your scope. You’ll find incredible African American talent which you could never have imagined.
Apparently and sadly I am not the only one. And, I am going to cover more African American designers and other designers who promoted and worked with African-Americans. If you have suggestions/ideas please send along so I can add to my coverage. xx
Thank you for highlighting this. I had never heard of Anne Lowe. Such a perfect example of how the work, the ideas, the genius of black women & men has been muffled with lasting economic & cultural repercussions.
Loved watching the video. Thank you for bringing this amazing designer to my attention. She persisted.
Ninela Lukavica Udiljak says
I am from Croatia, Europe, and even I know who Ann Lowe was. There was a documentary on Jackie Kennedy on our national TV station. Focus of the documentary was her contribution to civil rights movement. Her wedding dress order was one of the examples.
It is really astonishing that these facts are unknown to average American.
roseleen egan says
No they’re not. Do you know every American?
I remember reading about Ann Lowe and Jackie’s dress. I wish I could remember where. I remember I thought it was strange that Ms. Lowe was described as a seamstress. Why would Jackie have a “seamstress” make her wedding gown? Shame she didn’t get the notoriety she deserved.
Julia Faye Smith says
I once felt as you did: I saw a one line blurb about Ann Lowe and the wedding dress. I thought, “I should know this,” but I didn’t. I searched for a biography of Ann but there was none. There were only two items online. So I began a two year research project about Ann Lowe. I’ve talked with older women for who she designed, with family members, and with museum curators across the country. The result is a biography of her life. It is available through Amazon or special order through your local bookstore. I’ve sold film rights to a Hollywood producer and stage rights to a theatrical company in the United Kingsom. You can find many more references to Ann now, many of them based upon my book. Here’s a link…there are three versions, ebook, paperback with black and white photos, and paperback with color photos. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01KPFZFCC/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1://www.amazon.com/dp/B01KPFZFCC/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1