Pretty in Pink

A gown by one of America’s most talented fashion designers

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If you want an example of the perfect party dress of the 1950s, this could be it. It has everything! An extremely flattering cut, sparkly beadwork, unique pops of unexpected color and texture… this dress surely looked absolutely amazing on the lady whether she was seated, standing, or dancing the night away. It must have been as much fun to wear as it is to see.

Dress designed by Ann Lowe (front), 1959. Gift of the Black Fashion Museum founded by Lois K. Alexander-Lane, 2007.3.20

NMAAHC has an amazing collection of dresses by Ann Lowe (1898-1981) a pioneering African American fashion designer. Lowe was born in Clayton, Alabama, the great-granddaughter of an enslaved woman and a plantation owner. Lowe's mother was a designer and seamstress who taught Lowe how to sew. After attending the S. T. Taylor Design School in New York, Lowe established a shop on Lexington Avenue that catered successfully to leading social families including the Auchinclosses, DuPonts, Kennedys, Posts, Rockefellers, and Roosevelts. Lowe is best known as the designer of Jacqueline Bouvier's wedding gown and the bridal attendant gowns for the Bouvier/Kennedy wedding in 1953. This couture formal gown is absolutely gorgeous, featuring luscious colors, handmade silk flowers, detailed beadwork, and intricate construction.

Dress designed by Ann Lowe (back), 1959. Gift of the Black Fashion Museum founded by Lois K. Alexander-Lane, 2007.3.20

This dress was donated to Lois Alexander-Lane and the Black Fashion Museum in 1992 by Patricia Penrose Schieffer, spouse of Bob Schieffer. On the donation form, Mrs. Schieffer describes the dress as a “pink satin and organza ball gown, 1959.” Mrs. Schieffer most likely wore this dress to an event a few years before she met her husband in the early 1960s. – Terri Anderson, Cataloger

I love my clothes, and I’m particular about who wears them…I sew for the families of the Social Register.

Ann Lowe Fashion Designer