Black History: Anne Lowe

The first African-American fashion designer to gain national recognition. She was most famous for designing Jacqueline Kennedy’s wedding dress in 1953.

Ann Lowe was the leading dressmaker in New York City during the 1950’s and 60’s producing pieces that would rival any French designer of that time. Her designs were became so exclusive she made gowns for “high society” folks like Rockefeller, DuPont, and Roosevelt.
Some of Lowe’s haute couture dresses can be found on display at the Fashion Institute of Technology, The Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture and other museums across the country!
Lowe was born 1898 in Clayton, Alabama where she was raised by her grandmother who was a former slave bought and freed by her husband. Her grandmother who owned her own shop and mother were exceptional dressmakers, of course, passing down the craft to Ann. After her mother died, Lowe at age sixteen being advanced in her sewing and designing skills took over the business.
Her dresses were so elegant, a very wealthy woman named Josephine Lee from Tampa, Florida spotted Lowe in a dress she made for herself. The woman asked her where she had gotten the dress and Ann told her she made it herself the woman hired her on the spot. Lowe, against the wishes of her husband went to Florida to design dresses for Lee and her daughter’s.
She eventually moved to New York City where she flourished working for companies like Saks Fifth Avenue. It didn’t take much time for her work to be recognized however, many people were shocked when they found out she was black.
Lowe went on to work for fashion houses before opening her own shop in New York in 1950. Her creations were featured in Vogue and Vanity Fair with proper credits. Due to financial difficulties she closed her shop but would later reopen it until her retirement in 1972.
Ann Lowe is legendary, a fashion icon who had a groundbreaking career paved the way for black fashion designer’s today.