Today, we will be rediscovering a black fashion legend. Meet the fashion designer, seamstress, dressmaker and businesswomen who paved the way for black designers all around the world.

Ann Lowe pictured in Ebony magazine in 1966.

Over 65 years ago, Jacqueline Bouvier walked down the aisle in the most magnificent wedding dress when she married John F. Kennedy. The silk gown was ivory, with a portrait neckline and the most intricate details. Everyone wanted to know the designer behind the dress, but it remained a mystery. Today, we take pride in giving credit when it is due. The designer of this dress was the one and only, Ann Cole Lowe, the first black woman to become a well-known fashion designer.

In 1898, Ann Lowe, a fashion legend was born in Clayton, Alabama. It almost seemed as if fashion ran in her bloodline. She was the granddaughter of skilled seamstress Georgia Cole and the daughter of skilled seamstress Janey Lowe. Her family was notably known to create dresses for high society women. Due to her family's background, Lowe had it better off than most black folks in her town during the Jim Crow era. In fact, her upbringing even allowed her to live better than most of her white counterparts. Lowe started her fashion journey at a young age after learning how to sew by her grandma and mother. In order to create her own designs, she started off using scraps from her family's work. Flowers were Ann Lowe’s thing. She loved to create pieces that were inspired by her home's garden. In the majority of her designs, you can always find a beautifully curated flower decorating her work.

Ann Cole Lowe  working in her dress studio.Source: Saturday Evening Post, 1964.
Ann Cole Lowe working in her dress studio.Source: Saturday Evening Post, 1964.

After Lowe’s mother died in 1914, she decided to finish up her work. This included designing gowns for prominent figures such as Elizabeth Kirkland O’Neal and the First Lady of Alabama. At the time, she not only had to grieve for her deceased mother but had to deal with a husband who constantly expressed his negative feelings about her being involved with this business. Luckily, Lowe did not allow these obstacles to stop her. Rightfully so, Lowe allowed this challenge to successfully launch her career. The success of these dresses prompted her to attend S.T Taylor Design School in New York to touch up on her skills. Despite having to get an education in a school that forced her to be segregated and unable to interact with other students, Lowe was able to graduate faster than she expected. Just one year after graduating, Lowe became the head of her own dress shop in Florida at age at 21. After decades she gathered her savings and permanently moved to New York City where she opened a new boutique called “Ann Lowes Gowns” in Harlem. Later in 1969, Lowe was recognized as the first black woman to have a business called “Ann Lowe Originals” in the luxurious streets of Madison Avenue. She continued on to make dresses for generations such as the Rockefeller, Biddle, Lodge, Post and Du Pot families. She even worked on commission for stores like Saks Fifth Avenue, Henri Bendel and other well-known retailers.

Jackie Kennedy’s 1953 wedding dress to John F Kennedy designed by Ann Lowe
Jackie Kennedy’s 1953 wedding dress to John F Kennedy designed by Ann Lowe

"I love my clothes and am particular about who wears them. I am not interested in sewing for the cafe society of social climbers.” Lowe said to Ebony Magazine. “I do not cater to Mary and Sue. I sew for families of the Social Register." Lowe made it clear that she didn’t create dresses for just anybody. Her shop was the hotspot for the most wealthy, prestigious and high-class members of the social elite. While it was clear that her work was luxurious and made with high quality, not everyone treated her like so. Jacqueline Kennedy never exposed the designer of her wedding dress to others. When asked, she denied its magnificence by claiming it to be “not haute couture.” She even failed to clearly articulate Lowe’s name and would opt for “a color dressmaker did it” instead. We can also see these actions when we look at Olivia de Havilldad who wore a Lowe dress to the Oscars without a label. It seems as if people did not want to admit or embrace the fact that their beautiful well-crafted dresses were made by a black woman.

In this day and age, we choose not to hide or diminish the work created by the fashion genius, Ann Cole Lowe. In fact, people are now encouraging the world to acknowledge the woman that paved the way for black women designers all around the world. Lowe’s designs can be seen at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Additionally, Deborah Blumenthal has published Fancy Party Gowns: The Story of Ann Cole Lowe and Piper Hughley is anticipating publishing a fictional novel on the legend in the winter of 2o22.

Society’s best kept secret has now transformed itself into society’s most legendary story from the past. We live to support and acknowledge the black people who have shown individuality throughout their careers and open the doors for others. Ann Cole Lowe will always be remembered not just for her fashion but her creativity, passion, strength and ability to persevere through adversity!

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With New York Fashion Week this week, you probably want to stay on top of your game. This is your opportunity to network, follow the fashion trends and expand your knowledge with information from fashion professionals. Read below to see what things you can do to take advantage of this week:

Attend Events:

BRAG's Diversity & Inclusion: Where are We Now?

Wednesday, February 17th @ 7PM Eastern

Register here to learn more about the work that the work that diversity, equity and inclusion leaders in the business of fashion have been championing for years

Refresh and expand your fashion knowledge from top schools:

Some of the most prestigious schools are offering courses, information sessions and opportunities to get certificates!

Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT)

Parson's School of Design

Pratt Institute

Be a BFF and follow our Instagram @blackfashionfund:

Click here to read our post about networking in the fashion industry and stay tuned for our future posts!

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Louis Vuitton monogrammed printer Nike Jordan 1’s Source: Erik McLean via
Louis Vuitton monogrammed printer Nike Jordan 1’s Source: Erik McLean via


A fashion trend where an article of clothing is filled with a repetitive pattern of a brand's monogrammed logos.

Logomania is a fashion trend that shows it’s presence on many popular designer items such as Louis Vuitton, Fendi and Dior. This trend has been popular since it first saw the light in the 1980’s. However, due to the Y2K (Year 2000) aesthetic coming back to style, the rise of consumerism and “flex culture”, it is now skyrocketing. People from a mile a way can recognize a brand by the repetitive label that covers the garment. Not only is logomania a great way to advertise a brand but the versatility of the trend allows one to wear it in a multitude of ways. You can rock this trend by wearing logomania accented pieces or go all out and wear it head to toe. Going forward, it’s important to know the mastermind behind this creative movement: Dapper Dan.

Dapper Dan sitting down take by Renell Medrano for Gucci

It all started in Harlem, New York where Daniel Day, also known as Dapper Dan opened up his boutique on East 125th street. His attempts at being a wholesaler failed due to blatant prejudice being expressed towards him in his area. Not only did people refuse to do business with him, but they refused to provide him with the materials he needed such as fur and textiles. In efforts to overcome this obstacle, Day learned the ins and outs of the fashion industry. Doing this aided Day with the freedom to independently create his own work of art. He used logo prints from high end brands such as Gucci, Fendi and Louis Vuitton to create enhanced car interiors, clothing items, boxing gloves and any other items that one can use to express their personal style. Another creative act that he pursued was taking apart logomania printed bags to turn them into clothing pieces. To call Day’s work a “knock-off” would be disrespectful in his eyes. Dapper Dan believed that the luxury feel, creativity and affordable prices that his pieces provided aligned more with the term “knock-ups”.

(left) Dapper Dan’s boutique on East 125th Street in Harlem, New York. (right) Dapper Dan on the left with LL Cool J on the right wearing a custom-made Gucci Jacket in 1986. Source: Unknown

During the rise of hip-hop and an unfortunate crack-cocaine epidemic, Dapper Dan’s 24-hour boutique was the place to be. It is impossible to deny the fact that Dapper Dan gifted rap culture with their own signature style. Famous figures such as LLCoolJ, Jam Master Jay, and Mike Tyson were a few of Day’s most loyal customers. They helped Dapper Dan break the social constraints that were embedded within their communities.

(left) Retired Olympic Runner Gold & Silver Medalist: Diane Dixon wearing the original ballo  on sleeved leather jacket by Dapper Dan in 1989 (right) Gucci’s reinterpretation of Dapper Dan’s work in their Cruise 2018 Collection Source: Unknown
(left) Retired Olympic Runner Gold & Silver Medalist: Diane Dixon wearing the original balloon sleeved leather jacket by Dapper Dan in 1989 (right) Gucci’s reinterpretation of Dapper Dan’s work in their Cruise 2018 Collection Source: Unknown

In 1982, Dapper Dan’s boutique was shut down due to trademark infringement issues. However, his journey did not end there. Over 30 years later, Gucci’s Creative Director Alessandro Michele showed the world a jacket that was inspired by Day’s work. He wanted the world to know who initiated such a creative movement. This jacket alone was enough to restore Dapper Dan’s career. He began to be rightfully acknowledged as the “king” of logomania and the blueprint for fashion in hip-hop culture. People all around the world can see his designs on red carpets, music videos, films and magazine pages. In fact, he became so big that the brands that were trying to sue him, were longing to be his partner.

Dapper Dan x Gucci Collection in 2018
Dapper Dan x Gucci Collection in 2018

Dapper Dan couldn’t have predicted that logomania would have an enormous impact on fashion. Rightfully so, the epic streetwear and high fashion duo has disrupted the fashion industry and gave them a run for their money.

Day has successfully created something so powerful that it ignites positive feelings of wealth and class in others. Because of him, both high end and fast fashion brands incorporate logomania to their upcoming collections. Even to this day, Day has been collaborating with Gucci to create more legendary pieces inspired by archives from the 80’s. His work has been seen on popular artists such as A$AP Rocky, Saweetie, Regina Hall and more! So, before you put on your monogrammed printed Gucci Crystal Socks or your Dior Oblique Embroidery Saddle Bag , never forget who paved the way for you to wear it in the first place.

Dapper Dan Website:

Studio Address: 35 E. 125th Street

Accolades: 1st True Luxury Brand/Store Opened in Harlem, Published the book Dapper Dan Made in Harlem: A Memoir

Instagram: @dapperdanharlem , @madeatdaps

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