Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
/ Unsplash

Hidden Fashion: The First Noted African American Fashion Designer

In the wake of Black History Month, I find it necessary to shed some light on a remarkable role in history who many may not be familiar with – Ms. Ann Cole Lowe.

Lowe faced mishaps that are expected being that she was an African American female managing to make her mark in the fashion industry while in Jim Crow-era America. Born in Alabama in the late 1800’s, strong and fearless, she made admirable accomplishments beyond what was expected of any African American. Though there is not much known of her life, she deserves to have her work and milestones shared. Here are a few facts to signify some accomplishments and pieces of her journey as a black, renown fashion designer of her time.

  • Lowe learned most of her craft from her talented mother and former slave great grandmother, who both were gifted dressmakers.
  • Anne Lowe’s most notable piece of work is her design of Jaqueline Kennedy’s wedding dress which is currently held in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston.
  • Jacqueline Kennedy’s stepsister, Nina Auchincloss, appeared in a Vogue photoshoot wearing one of Ann Lowe’s designs in 1955.
  • Lowe had two failed marriages with husbands who did not approve of her business and go-getter mindset. They preferred a “normal”, stay-at-home wife. She dropped both (as she should have) and pursued her visions, refusing to submit to anyone.
  • Although Lowe was a high school dropout, she was granted the opportunity to attend the S.T Taylor School of Design in New York City where she was successful even though she was separated from her peers for being black.
  • Between 1919 and 1928, Lowe owned a dressmaking salon where she catered to wealthy white women.
  • She attended Paris Fashion Week in 1947 where she met French fashion designer, Christian Dior.
  • She had designs featured in Vogue. Unfortunately, she was never credited for them.
  • Lowe opened a shop in Harlem and another – the American House of Ann Lowe – on Madison Avenue. She was the first African American designer to do so.
  • Lowe stated during an appearance on the Mike Douglas Show in 1965 that she was not seeking fame or fortune, even though she was very successful, but instead wanted to “prove that a Negro can become a major dress designer.”
I'm either at home writing or sitting at the nearest Starbucks. Writer. Poet. Womanist. PR Girl 
Similar Reads👯‍♀️