Jackie Kennedy’s Fairy-tale Wedding Was a Nightmare for Her African American Dress Designer

Fashion designer Ann Lowe came from a family of Alabama dressmakers stretching back three generations. In New York, she designed clothing for society's elite: Roosevelts, Rockefellers, and the Bouviers, among others. However, she rarely got credit for her work. In 1953, Lowe scored the task of making dresses for the wedding of the year between Jacqueline Bouvier and John F. Kennedy. Lowe and her salon team worked for months to construct dresses for the bride, bridesmaids, and the bride's mother. An unforeseen disaster meant they had to work around the clock to have the dresses ready in time, and Lowe ended up losing thousands of dollars on the project. Author Rosemary E. Reed Miller tells what happened afterward.  

Joe Kennedy invited the press to cover the “social event of the season,” and reporters breathlessly recounted every detail they could glean.

Except one.

“[Jackie] didn’t love the dress, and people asked her who did the dress. She said, ‘I wanted to go to France, but a colored dressmaker did it.’ And Ann Lowe was devastated,” Miller told NPR.

Lowe was essentially written out of what would have been a career-making gown for anyone else. According to Miller, only The Washington Post’s Nina Hyde reported who the designer was.

Read the story of Ann Lowe and her relationship with Jackie Kennedy at the Washington Post.

Learn more about Lowe in a roundup of links at Metafilter.


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