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Black History Month - Kid's Corner

She designed bridal gown for future first lady

The world of high fashion has many famous names, and Anne Lowe belongs with them since she was the designer of Jacqueline Kennedy's wedding dress.

Born in 1899, Lowe's career began with the death of her mother when Anne was 16 years old. At the time of her death, her mom, a seamstress, had been working on four ball gowns for the wife of Alabama's governor. Lowe finished the work her mother had begun.

When Lowe married, her new husband did not want her to sew anymore. But a year later, when she was offered the chance to design a wedding gown for a Florida woman, she was off.

Afterward, she moved to New York City to attend the S.T. Taylor Design School. Considered an outsider by her white classmates, Lowe focused all attention on her studies.

Returning to Tampa, Fla., after school, Lowe operated her own dress shop before going back to New York to work in fashion salons. Although her creations did well, the salon owners always got the credit. Finally, Lowe and a partner opened their own shop in New York.

It was during this time that a young Jacqueline Bouvier asked Lowe to design all the gowns for her wedding to Sen. John F. Kennedy, a man who later would become president. Then, 10 days before the wedding, disaster struck as a water line burst in the store, ruining 10 of the dresses. But Lowe managed to remake all of the gowns by the wedding day.

Misfortune struck in 1962 when Lowe lost her store to the IRS because of taxes she owed. Heavily in debt, things got worse when her right eye developed glaucoma and had to be removed.

When she came out of the hospital, it seemed her luck had changed. Someone had anonymously paid all her debt. But then her other eye developed cataracts. This time surgery saved her vision, and Lowe returned to her work, opening a new store on Madison Avenue. She retired in the 1970s.

-- By Lizabeth Gray

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