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Glamour and Innovation: Ann Lowe

Dressmaker, seamstress, couturier, and, according to the Saturday Evening Post, “Society’s best kept secret,” Ann Lowe became the lead seamstress for a dress shop in Tampa, Florida, saving enough money to open three dress shops in New York City. She specialized in eveningwear, debutante gowns, and day dresses for the social elite.

Ann Lowe

(December 14, 1898 – February 25, 1981)

Dressmaker, seamstress, couturier, and, according to the Saturday Evening Post, “Society’s best kept secret,” Ann Lowe was born in Clayton, Alabama, in 1898. Lowe learned dressmaking from her mother, Jane, and grandmother, Georgia, as they were both seamstresses and created garments for many wealthy families in Alabama. As a child, Lowe sewed leftover fabric scraps from her mother’s work into flowers, a motif that remained in her dress designs well into adulthood. After earning her diploma from New York’s S.T. Taylor Design School (the school was segregated at the time and Lowe was separated from her peers), Lowe became the lead seamstress for a dress shop in Tampa, Florida, saving enough money to open three dress shops in New York City. Lowe specialized in eveningwear, debutante gowns, and day dresses for the social elite. News of Lowe’s exceptional work and intricate designs reached the Bouvier family, and it was not long before a young Jacqueline Bouvier visited Lowe’s dressmaking shop to order her wedding dress and the dresses for her bridesmaids for her wedding to Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts.