Ann Lowe: She persisted
"I love my clothes, and I’m particular about who wears them. I am not interested in sewing for cafe society or social climbers. I do not cater to Mary and Sue. I sew for the families of the Social Register."
~Ann Lowe Fashion Designer 1898 to 1981
I could spend several Fashion Fridays on the work and life of Ann Lowe. The great granddaughter of a slave woman and an Alabama plantation owner became the designer for predominantly white, upper class women for events that Ann Lowe would not be able to attend due to her race. As a student in the segregated S.T. Taylor Design School (NYC 1917), she attended classes in a room alone.
Her biggest claim to fame is the spectacular wedding gown she created for Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy using 50 yards of silk taffeta! Again, like last weeks Fashion Friday, I could easily go down the rabbit hole which is the internet. There is so much more behind this very complicated woman and her career. So today, I'll just focus on the beauty and mastery of her creations.
Ann Lowe was unusual for her times, since she put her passion for designing and her business before her personal relationships. She once said, "My second husband left me. He said he wanted a real wife, not one who was forever jumping out of bed to sketch dresses." Sadly, she struggled with her eye site for a large part of her career; loosing her right eye and her left was nearly blind due to glaucoma, but she persisted. She could not imagine her life without creating. “If I can’t design dresses” she told her eye surgeon, “I’d rather fly off the Empire State Building.”
See you next Fashion Friday. I'll be keeping with the theme of Black History Month and to quote myself from last week: "Black History is OUR History!" As always, please share with friends and feel free to comment on my below. denise PS: I digress, but as a much younger woman, "Ann Lowe" was my pseudonym. The first time I used it was at the age of 17 on a train ride to Boston to visit my older sister. I caught the eye of a "college boy" and since I was young, naive and uncomfortable with the attention of men, I gave him a fake name and phone number (This was the 70's when women were expected to be polite no matter what the circumstances.) Since my name is Denise Ann Shardlow, the first thing that popped into my head was Ann Lowe (I added the "e" to make it more believable). I used it several times afterwards when I didn't want to give my real name. This was years before I knew who the real Ann Lowe was.
"Lowe used her signature fabric flowers as a recurring theme throughout her career. She hand painted flowers on silk and built three-dimensional flowers from fabric."
A lovely example of her three-dimensional flowers.
Olivia De Havilland accepting her Oscar in a gown created by Ann Lowe. I'm making an assumption here, but perhaps the gown was listed as "unknown" since the designer was a black woman. This is a perfect example of her hand painted flowers on silk.
A closer look at the magnificent wedding gown she created for Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy