‘Only the Best: The Exceptional life and Fashion of Ann Lowe’
Kate Messner and Margaret E. Powell
(62 pages, Children’s Biography, 2022)
Ann Lowe (1898-1981) may not be a household name – in fact, until I read this biography I had no idea about her extraordinary life – but she was the first nationally known Black fashion designer. As a child, Ann learned sewing alongside her mother and grandmother, who sewed for wealthy White women in their small Alabama hometown. But Ann wasn’t really interested in the everyday. From an early age she used scraps of fancy fabrics to make floral embellishments that were as beautiful as real flowers.
From Alabama, Ann moved on to Tampa, Florida, where an annual gala ball provided a showcase for her extraordinary designs and meticulous sewing. Dreaming of more, Ann went to study fashion design and couture sewing in New York City. The year was 1918, and the school didn’t believe a Black woman could be a designer. Because her fellow students didn’t want to sit next to a Black woman, Ann was consigned to a separate room. Her designs and work were so impressive, however, that even the school’s director used them as examples for the other students.
Reading this book sent me right to the Internet to learn more about this amazing, creative woman. The authors have added notes in the back to help understand the timeline of Ann’s life and also a bibliography of articles about Ann and interviews with the artist herself.
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