Ann Lowe was the first black woman to own a boutique on Madison Avenue. From the 1920s to the 1960s, she dominated the fashion world amongst elite socialites and people who would later be considered American Royalty.
In 1953, Lowe designed one of history’s most iconic and presently replicated wedding dresses. The ivory silk-taffeta, portrait neckline dress worn by Jackie Bouvier during her wedding to John F. Kennedy was a hit among many. However, just ten days before, the dress was nearly destroyed.
A flood in Lowe’s Madison Avenue studio destroyed two months’ worth of work and the future First Lady’s wedding gown. Lowe hired extra help, bought new fabrics, and reconstructed the gown herself for about $2,200. That $2,200 would equate to about $21,000 today. And still, her name was hidden from the public. Every vendor and detail of the wedding was reported, but Jackie Kennedy only said a “colored woman” designed her dress.
Years later, after the assassination of President Kennedy, Lowe finally received some recognition but not nearly as much as she deserved. Overworked, underpaid and overlooked, Lowe found herself in debt and filing for bankruptcy until an anonymous donor paid her debt. That donor was speculated to be Jackie Kennedy.
Ann Lowe passed away in 1981. Many of her pieces are preserved in renowned museums.