ANN LOWE: AMERICAN COUTURIER Exhibition at Winterthur

Ann Lowe: American Couturier presents the life and work of the remarkable and influential American designer who designed couture gowns for debutantes, heiresses, actresses, and society brides, including Jacqueline Kennedy, Olivia de Havilland, and Marjorie Merriweather Post. Lowe made gowns that influenced international style—intricately constructed, beautifully designed, and custom-made for each client. The exhibition will reveal her evolution as a designer from the 1920s to the 1960s, illuminating her ongoing engagement with fashion trends and shifting cultural moments.

This is the largest exhibition of Lowe’s work to date, featuring 40 gowns, many never before on public view. The exhibition will also feature fashion by contemporary Black designers continuing Lowe’s legacy. Elizabeth Way, the associate curator at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, is the guest curator of the exhibition.

Born in Clayton, Alabama, into a family of African American dressmakers, Ann Lowe (ca. 1898–1981) learned the skill of dressmaking from her mother and grandmother. She developed not only expert technical skills by the time she was a teenager but also her distinctive style—feminine, elegant, and often incorporating her signature hand-made floral elements. Her extraordinary career took her through the Jim Crow South, from Montgomery, Alabama, to Tampa, Florida, and in 1928 to New York City. Lowe’s work made her an asset to wealthy society women around the country, yet she also experienced the tumultuous hardships of the fashion business and segregated America in a period of dramatic change.

Ann Lowe’s work places her among America’s significant fashion designers, and her life illustrates a legacy of Black women’s knowledge and skills that began as enslaved labor. Lowe modernized this legacy and expanded it to international visibility, positioning herself as a creative designer, a fashion insider, and a vital contributor to American culture.

Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library—known worldwide for its preeminent collection of American antiques, naturalistic garden, and research library for the study of American art and material culture—offers a variety of tours, exhibitions, programs, and activities throughout the year.

Museum hours are 10 am–5 pm, Tuesday–Sunday. Winterthur, located on Route 52, six miles northwest of Wilmington, Delaware, and five miles south of U.S. Route 1, is closed Mondays (except during Yuletide), Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day. Winterthur is committed to accessible programming for all. For information, including special services, call 800.448.3883.

For information, call 800.448.3883 or visit www.winterthur.org/annlowe.

 

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