Ann Lowe: American Couturier (Hardcover)

Ann Lowe: American Couturier By Elizabeth Way, Heather Hodge (Contributions by), Laura Mina (Contributions by), Margaret Powell (Contributions by), Katya Roelse (Contributions by), Katherine Sahmel (Contributions by) Cover Image
By Elizabeth Way, Heather Hodge (Contributions by), Laura Mina (Contributions by), Margaret Powell (Contributions by), Katya Roelse (Contributions by), Katherine Sahmel (Contributions by)
Usually Ships in 1-5 Days


The definitive illustrated volume on the work and life of Ann Lowe, a consummate couturier who designed lavish evening and bridal gowns for members of America’s social registry, a Black woman working hard behind the scenes whose important legacy has remained underappreciated—until now.

At the height of her fashion career, Ann Lowe’s luxurious and opulent evening gowns and bridal wear were sold in upscale department stores across the country. At various times Lowe owned salons on Madison Avenue. She made Jackie Kennedy’s wedding and bridesmaids’ dresses, but, upon arrival at the Auchincloss estate on the big day, the butler directed Lowe to enter via the service entrance (she refused). Throughout her lifetime (c. 1898–1981), her major contributions to American style were unrecognized.

Vivid new photography of Lowe’s couture gowns—including lush details of her exquisite handwork and signature floral embellishments—accompany essays that explore the trials and achievements of Lowe’s life, contextualize her work within fashion history, profile Black designers whose work reflects her influence, and offer a behind-the-scenes look at the extraordinary efforts to preserve Lowe’s gowns.

About the Author

Elizabeth Way is associate curator of costume at the Museum at FIT. Katherine Sahmel is conservator of textiles and Heather Hodge is postgraduate fellow in textile conservation at Winterthur Museum. Laura Mina is conservator of textiles at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture. The late Margaret Powell’s master’s thesis, The Life and Work of Ann Lowe, was published in 2012 by the Corcoran School of the Arts & Design. Katya Roelse is an instructor in the fashion and apparel program at the University of Delaware.

Praise For…

"Once in a while, a star burns through fashion’s stratosphere with lavish contribution but little recognition. Such is the case with Ann Lowe, America’s first Black fashion designer. A literary voyage of needle and thread, Ann Lowe: American Couturier reintroduces the paragon of mid-century romanticism into fashion’s orbit. Within its pages, you’ll find a vivid fleet of images that capture the awe of Lowe’s legacy, essays that explore the impact of her craft, and a close-up of the extraordinary efforts taken to preserve her gowns. Whether it’s crafting Jackie Kennedy’s iconic wedding dress or reimagining the attire of American high society, Lowe’s gift for sartorial storytelling forever changed fashion’s landscape. If it’s a story of unbridled passion in matters of the dress you seek, consider Rizzoli’s long-overdue tribute to this fashion phenomenon your next fall read." —V MAGAZINE

"Born in 1898, Lowe sought a career as a dressmaker from a young age amid segregation and racism. She became a dress salon owner, servicing prominent individuals, such as Hollywood actress Olivia de Havilland and Black pianist Elizabeth Mance, along with wealthy legacy families—the Roosevelts, Rockefellers, Whitneys, and DuPonts, to name a few. Lowe’s own legacy is rightfully given homage in “Ann Lowe: American Couturier” for present and future generations to never forget." —ESSENCE

"Elizabeth Way has compiled an appreciation of Ann Lowe, the Black designer who made Jackie Kennedy’s wedding dress and many other gowns for New York’s upper crust." ~NY TIMES

"...the life and career of Ann Lowe, a seamstress and designer who dressed countless notable American families throughout her lengthy career. Lowe was dubbed “society’s best kept secret” as she often received no direct credit for creations, including designing Jackie Kennedy’s wedding dress for her marriage to John F. Kennedy.  Renewed interest in Black history has led to renewed interest in Lowe." —THE GRIO

"Lowe’s career was launched when she went to work as the live-in seamstress for an upper-class Southern family in Tampa, Fla. Her creations offer a window into a world of white privilege, where fairy-tale ballgowns and wedding finery were in high demand. After moving to New York, Lowe maintained a steady list of private clients, including the actress Olivia de Havilland, who wore one of Lowe’s gowns to the 1947 Oscars (Lowe never got a credit). While Lowe’s designs regularly appeared in Vogue and Vanity Fair, her name remained mostly unknown except to wealthy insiders. She was proud of sewing for the members of the Social Register." —WSJ
Product Details
ISBN: 9780847873142
ISBN-10: 0847873145
Publisher: Rizzoli Electa
Publication Date: September 5th, 2023
Pages: 208
Language: English