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Episode 28

Ann Lowe: Big Risks for Big Dreams

Ann Lowe moved to New York with big dreams. She wanted to become a great American designer, no small feat for a Black woman from Alabama in 1928. But she held fast to her dream, taking enormous risks and facing down catastrophe to realize her talent.

In 1917, a young woman named Ann Lowe came from her home in Tampa, Florida to New York City. A talented and successful dressmaker back home, she wanted to advance her skills with a formal design education. When she arrived, she found herself segregated into a separate classroom, the other students having refused to work alongside her. As a Black woman, she had many such obstacles to face throughout her life.

And yet, this extraordinary woman went on to design some of the most recognized and admired gowns of her time. She opened her own shop on Madison Avenue. Eventually, she was recognized in national publications and on television as a truly great American designer.

Ann had a dream, and she was willing to risk it all to see it happen. Time and again, she put her career, marriage, family, and security on the line to pursue the greatness she knew she was capable of.

Ann’s most famous gown, Jacqueline Bouvier’s wedding gown for her marriage to John Kennedy.

The gown Ann designed, worn by Olivia de Havilland to accept her Best Actress Oscar in 1947.

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