Black History Month USA | Anne Cole Lowe

By Olivia Howes published on

Born in Alabama in 1898, Ann Cole Lowe was raised by her dress-maker grandmother and embroiderer mother, who both created gowns for socialites. When her mother passed away in 1914, then 16-year-old Ann was left with finishing off some of her Mother’s work which gained her a place studying Fashion Design at S.T. Taylor Design School in New York.



Ann was separated from her classmates as the only Black student in the school and isolated during her studies, but this didn’t stop her. She graduated after just 18 months and moved down to Florida to open her first dress shop, where she saved up $20k before moving back to New York City in 1927 to open the first of 3 dress shops, ‘Ann Lowe’s Gowns’ for Manhattan’s social elite.

Her most famous piece was creating the wedding dress for First Lady Jacqueline Bouvier, for her marriage to future President; John F. Kennedy in 1953. It was reported years later, that there was a flood in her atelier just two weeks before the big day, and paid out almost five times the price that she had charged for the dress, to remake the gown that got destroyed in a flood. She didn’t request the costs to be covered, as she was more interested in creating the dresses, knowing who wore them and where she was profiting at all from her work.


Lowe created beautiful dresses for many famous people. However, her reputation and identity were kept a secret by the customers who didn’t want it to be known that their dresses were being made by a Woman of Colour. Her clients would vastly under-pay and under-appreciate her work because of this. At the height of her career, she struggled to make ends meet. Lowe declared bankruptcy in 1962 before an anonymous benefactor (Later thought to be Jacqueline Kennedy) paid off her debts, allowing her to work another ten years before her retirement in 1972.

She's known as an iconic African-American couturier, with her dresses on display in many American Museums. In her day, she was in the era of the original design houses like Chanel, Balmain and Dior. But she was unable to sustain her business due to the racial views of the time she was designing.

If Anne Lowe was living in the 21st Century and shopped at Nubian Skin, she would be purchasing the Cotton Wireless Bra and Brief set, as her full-time seamstress occupation (and I can vouch for this!) means she would need a comfortable and breathable lingerie wardrobe for those busy days sewing and embroidering.

She might invest in some Nubian Skin hosiery for the events that she needs to attend as part of her job in the fashion industry. If she wore her dresses, having a few pairs of tights in her nude tone would be a wardrobe staple to match her attire.

Alternatively, she might recommend Nubian Skin’s Plumetis Multi-Way bra, Suspender belt and Hold-ups, or the Naked Seamless Panties range, to her African-American clientele, looking for functional or seamless nude lingerie to sit under her gorgeous dresses for their events.

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