When Jacqueline Bouvier was preparing for her 1953 wedding to then Congressman John F. Kennedy, her mother sought out a talented African-American dress-maker name Ann Cole Lowe to create the wedding gown. Ms. Lowe was a high society designer who had designed for her for years as well as for the duPonts, Biddles, Lodges, and other patrician-type families for years.
The Bouvier wedding gown featured a portrait neckline and bouffant skirt decorated with interwoven bands of tucking and tiny wax flowers. The gown required 50 yards of ivory silk taffeta and took more than two months to make. Ms. Lowe also designed the pink faille silk gowns and matching Tudor caps worn by the bridal party.
Ms. Lowe was awarded the Couturier of the Year Plaque by New York Fashion society in 1961. She appeared in the National Social Directory and 1968 Who’s Who of American Women. She also opened a new store on Madison Avenue in New York, which did quite well. She designed and created more than 2,000 dresses for New York’s society ladies, and was well known for using the “trapunto” technique in her dressmaking.
Five of Ms. Cole’s gowns are now in the permanent collection of the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum in New York. Others are in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, and the Black Fashion Museum in Harlem. Anne Cole Lowe retired in the 1970s and died in 1981 at the age of 83.
You can read more about Ann Cole Lowe in the book, The Threads of Time, The Fabric of History: Profiles Of African American Dressmakers And Designers From 1850 To The Present. The book was written by Rosemary E. Reed Miller.
Love & Soul Always, Kawania