You have to know where you came from to understand where you're going. Ann Cole Lowe may not be a familiar name to you when it comes to Black History but her mark in the fashion industry will live for generations to come.
The Mid 1900s was a revolutionary time for perception. The use of Eastman Kodak's camera would shed light on a dormant truth. Thus began the time of Christian Dior, Coco Chanel and Pierre Balmain just to name a few. Although she brushed shoulders with these heavy hitters, Lowe's name wasn't going to be illuminated along with them. Not for a while.
Born the daughter of a seamstress and embroiderer, she began working for the family business in Alabama. At 16 years of age, in her mother's passing, Lowe fulfilled a number of orders for the Governor's Wife. She was polished, prepped and trained to be a fashion designer.
Ann Lowe moved to Florida and continued to fulfill orders in her dress making business for her socialite clientele. As a single mother of a young boy, she worked as a live-in dressmaker. In 1918, Lowe moved to New York City for good. In 1950 opened her stand alone business, "Ann Lowe's Gowns." Unfortunately, she was still paid much less than her white counterparts despite her list of accreditations.
"The Gibson" girl is what all aspired to be and Lowe would be as creative as possible to bring your best girl out of you. Her collection of debutantes and wedding dresses solidified her mark on women's fashion. As a custom designer in 1953s, Ann Lowe was called to create Jaqueline Kennedy- Onassis (at the time Bouvier) Wedding dress. It will forever stand out in the fashion world.
Today, Ann Cole Lowe is recognized as a pioneer
on the road to equal opportunity and entrepreneurship. She has made he mark in Ebony magazine and with women of all shapes, sizes and colors. She made such an impact that when facing bankruptcy after the death of her son, she was helped by good ole' Jackie-O. The former first lady paid off all of Ann's debt.
Ann Cole Lowe's pieces can be viewed at Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of the City of New York, and The Museum at FIT.