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Something to Prove: A biography of Ann Lowe America's Forgotten Designer

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For any designer, designing the wedding dress to be worn by Jacqueline Bouvier, future First Lady of the United States, for her marriage to John F. Kennedy would be a lifetime achievement. For Ann Lowe, it became a statement. The iconic gown would become the most photographed wedding gown in American history proving that (in Ann’s own words), “a Negro can become a major dr For any designer, designing the wedding dress to be worn by Jacqueline Bouvier, future First Lady of the United States, for her marriage to John F. Kennedy would be a lifetime achievement. For Ann Lowe, it became a statement. The iconic gown would become the most photographed wedding gown in American history proving that (in Ann’s own words), “a Negro can become a major dress designer.” Years earlier, as the sun rose on the morning of Ann’s birth, no one in the small town of Clayton, Alabama could have dreamed of the heights she would achieve for she was born a squirming, scrawny, little black girl in the Jim Crow South, but from an early age she recognized her dreams. Her path would not be easy, and any success she might have was certain to be achieved only with steadfast effort and fortitude on her part. Armed with a great inner strength and natural talent, she rose above all obstacles and forged her own future. When she designed and produced Jacqueline Bouvier’s wedding dress, very few knew her name. No one but her staff knew of the disaster that preceded the delivery of that now-historic wedding dress to the home of the bride. Even fewer knew that she was the granddaughter of a former slave. Even today, few know her story.


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For any designer, designing the wedding dress to be worn by Jacqueline Bouvier, future First Lady of the United States, for her marriage to John F. Kennedy would be a lifetime achievement. For Ann Lowe, it became a statement. The iconic gown would become the most photographed wedding gown in American history proving that (in Ann’s own words), “a Negro can become a major dr For any designer, designing the wedding dress to be worn by Jacqueline Bouvier, future First Lady of the United States, for her marriage to John F. Kennedy would be a lifetime achievement. For Ann Lowe, it became a statement. The iconic gown would become the most photographed wedding gown in American history proving that (in Ann’s own words), “a Negro can become a major dress designer.” Years earlier, as the sun rose on the morning of Ann’s birth, no one in the small town of Clayton, Alabama could have dreamed of the heights she would achieve for she was born a squirming, scrawny, little black girl in the Jim Crow South, but from an early age she recognized her dreams. Her path would not be easy, and any success she might have was certain to be achieved only with steadfast effort and fortitude on her part. Armed with a great inner strength and natural talent, she rose above all obstacles and forged her own future. When she designed and produced Jacqueline Bouvier’s wedding dress, very few knew her name. No one but her staff knew of the disaster that preceded the delivery of that now-historic wedding dress to the home of the bride. Even fewer knew that she was the granddaughter of a former slave. Even today, few know her story.

45 review for Something to Prove: A biography of Ann Lowe America's Forgotten Designer

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jaina

    I'm a little torn because I feel more people should know about Ann Lowe and her contributions to classic American style, but this biography feels a little flat. There are places where it's like reading notes for a novel or scene sketches, and other places where it's a very skeletal outline of dates and names. I wish it were stronger, but I still recommend it as something to read if you're at all interested in the tastemakers of the 50's and 60's. I'm a little torn because I feel more people should know about Ann Lowe and her contributions to classic American style, but this biography feels a little flat. There are places where it's like reading notes for a novel or scene sketches, and other places where it's a very skeletal outline of dates and names. I wish it were stronger, but I still recommend it as something to read if you're at all interested in the tastemakers of the 50's and 60's.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Brenda Anweiler

    I could not put this book down. I am amazed that she has been so over looked as an important designer for so long to so many. I attended fashion design school myself in the early 80's and yet had never heard of this phenomenal women. I enjoyed that it is written in "fact nugget" style. I wish the pictures had been in color but non-the-less beautiful pictures. I could not put this book down. I am amazed that she has been so over looked as an important designer for so long to so many. I attended fashion design school myself in the early 80's and yet had never heard of this phenomenal women. I enjoyed that it is written in "fact nugget" style. I wish the pictures had been in color but non-the-less beautiful pictures.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Rachael Crewe

    This book, explains the life of America's forgotten, Ann Lowe. The book starts out by giving the reader substantial information on her family and background. She came from an enslaved family from Georgia with little to no freedom. She took after her great grandmother, grandmother, and mother as a seamstress. From there she fought through the hardships of her being black in the mid 1900's. It was hard for her because she began to make dresses for famous people who were of the different color and This book, explains the life of America's forgotten, Ann Lowe. The book starts out by giving the reader substantial information on her family and background. She came from an enslaved family from Georgia with little to no freedom. She took after her great grandmother, grandmother, and mother as a seamstress. From there she fought through the hardships of her being black in the mid 1900's. It was hard for her because she began to make dresses for famous people who were of the different color and this made it difficult. She began to travel everywhere such as Tampa, London, Paris, Nebraska, and New York to fulfill her fashion business. She hit some bumpy paths along the way, such as the Great Depression. She had a hard time selling her products for less than what she got for the materials, but still managed to surpass that and keep going. Many of her dresses are now in museums up on display. Ann Lowe displays many characteristics of showing Americans that even though she is a minority, she still went on with her business and worked hard to make the things perfect for her customers. She fought for her rights as a black women and that is important during the time of women suffrage. The theme of this text is perseverance. Ann Lowe had the willingness to work toward her goal as much was possible of her. She did not have her background or location stop her. Ann "knew that to become the success she wanted to be, she must persevere and make a name for herself" (Dior 53). Her business began to be her own and from there, was successful. Keeping your head up and working for what you want will always work if you stay positive. I recommend this text because it can teach the readers many valuable lessons. Lessons such as perseverance, working hard, and never giving up. These are very valuable to have in life and can get everyone far in life.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jacqueline

    Such a thorough, interesting read about a “hidden figure” in our history.

  5. 5 out of 5

    mary heidel

    Interesting, Not a book I would typically be interested in but it grabbed my attention. Glad I read it! It’s a very quick read also.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Julie Hughes

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ally Kat

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lorie

  9. 4 out of 5

    Shif Gadamsetti

  10. 4 out of 5

    Bene S Cox

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Hoskins

  12. 5 out of 5

    Julie

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Goodman

  14. 5 out of 5

    Robyn

  15. 5 out of 5

    Laurie

  16. 4 out of 5

    Mac Stanton

  17. 5 out of 5

    Rosemary Campau

  18. 5 out of 5

    TaniaRina

  19. 4 out of 5

    Tonya Vickery

  20. 4 out of 5

    Todd Cleary

  21. 4 out of 5

    Brandi

  22. 4 out of 5

    Roy

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

  24. 4 out of 5

    Susan Robinson

  25. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Clark

  26. 5 out of 5

    graveyardgremlin

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ellen

  28. 4 out of 5

    marilyn kauffman

  29. 5 out of 5

    Derrick Howard

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jackie

  31. 4 out of 5

    Mervin P. Wallace

  32. 4 out of 5

    martha a debiasi

  33. 5 out of 5

    Creolecat

  34. 4 out of 5

    Flaubertian

  35. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

  36. 5 out of 5

    Aspasia

  37. 5 out of 5

    Jean Fauntleroy

  38. 4 out of 5

    Holly Kroh

  39. 5 out of 5

    Quanda

  40. 4 out of 5

    Manish Tawri

  41. 4 out of 5

    Sassa

  42. 5 out of 5

    Kelli Roberts

  43. 4 out of 5

    Jewell

  44. 4 out of 5

    Torrie

  45. 5 out of 5

    Lois

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