BOOK REVIEWS

Fancy Party Gowns: The Story of Fashion Designer Ann Cole Lowe Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2017-07-11 
Review Score: 4 out of 5 star From 5 user ratings
ISBN:1499802390
LANGUAGE:English

" Note: I received a hardcover copy signed by the illustrator at ALA Midwinter 2017. " said.

" Love! Love! Love!A fantastic combination of two of my favorite things: beautiful clothes and strong women! My students this year will study Ann Cole Lowe. " said.

" I really enjoyed both the writing and illustrations in this book. It just ended a little abruptly for me and left me wanting to know more. It was interesting and I would love to read this to school age children. " said.

" This was a really interesting book about an African American dress designer who many people will not have heard of. She actually designed the wedding dress of Jackie Kennedy and her bridesmaids dresses. The text is easy to read and interesting. The only think lacking are pictures of the actual dresses and photographs of Anne Cole Lowe herself. " said.

"I would liked to have given this book 4 stars but only gave 3 stars for several reasons: 1. The illustrations are very well done. BUT - in the author's note or at the end, a few photographs could have been added of both Ann Cole Lowe and her designs.
2. This is good way to introduce young readers to Ann Cole Lowe. BUT more could have been written about her struggles as an African American in the fashion and business world and in our country.
More information and emotion could have been included in the text of this picture book - young readers deserve and want more.
" said.

"This book tells the little-known story of Ann Cole Lowe, born in 1898, an African-American fashion designer who overcame a great deal of hardship and prejudice to become a leading star in the fashion world, even designing the wedding dress for Jacqueline Bouvier when she married John F. Kennedy.

Ann grew up in Alabama sewing alongside her mother, who, however, died when Ann was just 16. But Ann kept up with her mother's orders, and even attended design school in New York in 1917. But, as the author reports, she had to sit all alone in a separate room since she was black.

Eventually Ann was able to start her own business. One of the more memorable vignettes in the book is about the time Ann came to the Bouvier mansion in Newport, Rhode Island in 1953 to bring the wedding party dresses for soon-to-be Jacqueline Kennedy. The butler told her she would have to use the back entrance:

“Ann said that if she had to enter through the back door, the bride and bridesmaids wouldn’t be wearing her dresses for the wedding. She entered through the front door.”

Ann continued to design dresses for prominent women, but struggled financially, and in 1960 was forced to close her salon. She died in 1981 at the age of 82.

Illustrations by Laura Freeman are done in a style fashionistas will recognize known as “fashion illustration” or “fashion sketching.” They not only show a representation or design of a garment but are considered as a form of art. One sees less of it now with the greater use of photography, but designers still use this form of art for the initial representation of their ideas. [While Freeman's illustrations of some of Lowe’s finished gowns show women of color wearing them, Lowe’s designs were mostly purchased by wealthy white society women.]

Evaluation: I always loved beautiful gowns as a girl. I would have loved this book, as it combines an inspiring story with a “princess” element that will have broad appeal.
" said.

" The beautifully illustrated story of Ann Cole Lowe who designed gowns for many rich and famous women, including Jacqueline Kennedy's wedding gown. Her gowns were gorgeous!! " said.

" The designer is probably most famous for Jackie Kennedy's wedding dress. " said.

September 2017 New Book:

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