By Her Own Design


By Her Own Design by Piper Huguley was the story of Ann Cole Lowe, an African American woman born around 1900, who overcame obstacles and prejudices to become a fashion designer in New York. She had humble beginnings in Clayton, Alabama, where she learned dressmaking from her mother and grandmother.  From the time she could thread a needle, all she ever wanted to do was make fancy dresses.  She had an innate talent, that led her to becoming an extremely talented designer, most notably by designing and making the wedding dress for Jaqueline Bouvier when she married JFK. 

Her dedication to her craft, and her talent helped her find people who helped her, most notably Josephine Edwards Lee, a Tampa socialite who hired her as a live-in dressmaker in Tampa, Florida, where she developed a loyal clientele.  With some help, she attended the S.T. Taylor School of Design in New York, where she had to sit in a separate room, because of her skin color.  In spite of that, she was the top of her class, often helping teach the white students.  She graduated in half the time expected and moved back to Tampa.  She saved up enough money to move to NY and open a shop. 

She had two bad marriages, and 1 son Arthur, who helped her in her business until he died, and an adopted daughter whom she lived with until Lowe died in 1981 at the age of 82. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the first 80% of the book and learned a lot.  The final 20% seemed to meander and whine a bit.  The book is based on fact, but there were some fictional additions to the storyline.


 I did enjoy the book and would recommend it. The highest rating was a 4 and the lowest a 3. Overall, it came in at a 3.5.  Brenda made a wonderful southern lunch.  


Great discussion.