Anne Lowe Sweetrocks Inspiring Woman
Ann Cole Lowe (December 14, 1898 – February 25, 1981) was an American fashion designer and the first African American to become a noted fashion designer. Lowe’s one-of-a-kind designs were a favorite among high society matrons from the 1920s to the 1960s. She was best known for designing the ivory silk taffeta wedding dress worn by Jacqueline Bouvier when she married John F. Kennedy in 1953.
In 1917, Lowe and her son moved to New York City, where she enrolled at S.T. Taylor Design School. As the school was segregated, Lowe was required to attend classes in a room alone. After graduating in 1919, Lowe and her son moved to Tampa, Florida. The following year, she opened her first dress salon. The salon catered to members of high society and quickly became a success. Having saved $20,000 from her earnings, Lowe returned to New York City in 1928. For a time, she worked on commission for stores such as Henri Bendel, Chez Sonia, Neiman Marcus, and Saks Fifth Avenue. In 1946, she designed the dress that Olivia de Havilland wore to accept the Academy Award for Best Actress for To Each His Own, although the name on the dress was Sonia Rosenberg.
As she was not getting credit for her work, Lowe and her son opened a second salon, Ann Lowe’s Gowns, in New York City on Lexington Avenue in 1950. Her one-of-a-kind designs made from the finest fabrics were an immediate success and attracted many wealthy, high society clients. One design element she was known for were her fine handwork, signature flowers, and trapunto technique. The Saturday Evening Post later called Lowe “society’s best kept secret”. Throughout her career, Lowe was known for being highly selective in choosing her clientele. She later described herself as “an awful snob”, adding: “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.” Over the course of her career, Lowe created designs for several generations of the Auchinclosses, the Rockefellers, the Lodges, the Du Ponts, the Posts and the Biddles