The Story of Ann Cole Lowe is not one that I probably would have ever heard of if not for the new biography, Fancy Party Gowns, by Deborah Blumenthal. Her story, however, is important in the world of fashion, women, and African-American history.
Ann Cole Lowe learned how to sew from her mother and grandmother who were both dressmakers in Alabama. When Ann was 16, her mother had been working on a dress for the governor’s wife when she died. “Ann thought about what she could do, not what she couldn’t change.” So Ann finished the dress.
Ann continued to work hard and in 1917 was sent to a design school in New York, but she had to study alone, in a separate room, because of the color of her skin. This image alone in the book is exceptionally powerful to help get the notion across to children just how unfair laws and practices were when it came to segregation. This didn’t stop Ann, if anything, it might have made her stronger.
With fierce determination, Ann continued to work hard and was asked to design a wedding dress for Jacqueline Bouvier and the dresses for her entire wedding party. Still, no one knew her name because she was African-American “and life wasn’t fair.”
Ann worked hard and loved what she did. She knew how important it was to do things that helped make your spirit soar. She played an important role in fashion history, and this wonderful book does a great job of getting her name, her story, and her passion out there for the next generation.
Every Wednesday I try to post a non-fiction picture book as part of the Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy. There are truly so many amazing nonfiction picture books being published these days, it can be hard to contain myself sometimes. Make sure to check out Kid Lit Frenzy and the linked blogs to find some more fabulous books!
I love when nonfiction picture books highlight new people that should really be well known already! This book looks fascinating, and I look forward to learning more about Ann.
Glad there’s a slew of picture books both fiction and nonfiction that are fashion related. I would think kids will enjoy them and I’m sure whole curriculums can be done with them.
I worked in the fashion industry for years and my youngest is obsessed. This fills a great niche market.