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Elizabeth Keckly and Ann Lowe: Recovering an African American Fashion Legacy That Clothed the American Elite

by Elizabeth Way

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Elizabeth Keckly and Ann Lowe are not commonly recognized names in fashion history, though both were vital contributors to American fashion. Keckly, working in Civil-War-era Washington, DC, and Lowe, working in mid-twentieth-century New York City, were respected dressmakers to elite and stylish women, such as Mary Todd Lincoln and Jacqueline Kennedy. Keckly and Lowe were also unique as African American women, who learned their advanced dressmaking skills from their enslaved mothers and grandmothers, and successfully transformed those skills into thriving, free businesses.

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