Stephenie Bailey, Continuing Education Manager at Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library, and Elizabeth ‘Liz’ Way, guest curator for the Ann Lowe exhibit and Associate Curator at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology discussed their upcoming exhibition, Ann Lowe: American Couturier.
Lowe is recognized as first African American to become a noted fashion designer; from the 1920s through the mid ‘60s she was “Society’s Best-Kept Secret” designing gowns for bold names including the Rockefeller, Marjorie Merriweather Post, Olivia de Havilland. She created Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy’s iconic 1953 wedding dress.
The exhibition was inspired by the research of the late Winterthur curator Margaret Powell and Ms Way will bring more than 40 examples of Lowe’s work from both private and institutional collections. Some of these gowns have never before been on public view. Winterthur, the premier museum of American decorative arts, put its world-renowned textile conservation team to work with the University of Delaware to recreate Kennedy’s fragile wedding gown and they pioneered a 3D printing technique to create customized mannequins for the exhibition. The recreated dress will then go to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum for use in their programming. The exhibition will also live on in its catalog, Ann Lowe, American Couturier (Rizzoli) will be the first scholarly representation of Lowe’s contributions to 20th-century couture in the US.