Black is America & Stitch Please Presents – Ann Lowe: An American Original

Hey Stitchers! We are so excited that our good friend and 22x(!) award winning podcaster Dominic Lawson has shared this beautifully crafted history of Ann Lowe with us as a Black History Month leap day treat. Black is America is one of my favorite pods so take a listen and when you're done, click the link and check out the rest of his episodes!


Anne Lowe was a pioneering African American fashion designer who dressed high society elites in the early to mid 20th century. We learn about her early life in Alabama, training in New York, moving to Harlem during the Renaissance, and most famously designing Jacqueline Kennedy's wedding dress.


  • Early Life & Training
  • Born in Clayton, AL in 1898
  • Learned sewing from her mother and grandmother
  • Moved to NYC in 1917 to formally train at S.T. Taylor Design School
  • Segregated at school but still excelled and finished early
  • Building Her Brand
  • Opened successful dress salon in Tampa, FL from 1919-1928
  • Saved $20,000 to move to Harlem, NYC during the Renaissance
  • Quickly built clientele among NYC elites and socialites
  • Designed Olivia de Havilland's Oscars dress in 1947
  • Peak Years
  • Client list included Rockefellers, Roosevelts, duPonts and more
  • Hired to design 1953 wedding dress for Jacqueline Kennedy
  • Water pipe disaster destroyed original dress 10 days before wedding
  • Remade it in 5 days with help of employees and community
  • Late Career Struggles
  • Focused more on artistry than business side, fell into debt
  • Wealthy clients anonymously paid off $13k in back taxes she owed
  • Died in 1981 at age 82 after inspiring new generation of designers

Key Quote: "I love my clothes and I'm not interested in sewing for café society or social climbers. I sew for the families of the Social Register." - Anne Lowe

Impact: Lowe's elegant designs broke racial barriers in high fashion. She paved the way for future Black designers through her perseverance and excellence.

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