To celebrate Black History Month….in fact every month, I wanted to share some books by and about Black fashion designers and other Black fashion/beauty/lifestyle influencers. I’m very happy to say it is a long list and I’m sure I’m only scratching the surface. In today’s post I’m going to feature two of the fashion designers. This is a diverse group of creators and they span three centuries. At a time when we seem to be in a “cancel culture” mode I want to upset that notion….I am a FIRM believer that we must know history….the good, the bad, the ugly….to understand our world, how to not make the same mistakes, how to grow and improve…and how to maintain the positive! I can’t even comprehend the absurdity of banning books…talk about going backward, how can we learn without all opinions! Okay, I’ll get off my soapbox…my blog has and will continue to be a safe zone from the politics of the day.

Here we go….I’m going to begin with the first Black designer of note, Elizabeth Keckley, dressmaker to Mary Todd Lincoln and Washington DC socialites. Her story is beyond fascinating, born into slavery she bought her freedom through her dressmaking…extraordinary. There are several books about her, an autobiography, a biography and several novels, I would suggest all of them. Here is a story that needs to be absorbed and, in my opinion is as important as the beginning of Haute Couture and Charles Worth. What makes that a comparison is the period of time when they were creating. Everyone knows about The House of Worth…in my humble opinion, now is the time, long over due, to shine the spotlight on Elizabeth Keckley! An amazing grouping of books, I’m sure you agree…all worthy of additions to your fashion library.

Next, let’s explore the relatively unknown creator of Jacqueline Bouvier’s gown when she married Jack Kennedy, Ann Cole Lowe! Lowe not only produced an extraordinary bridal gown (under the patronage of Joseph Kennedy!) but the gowns for the entire wedding party. Already a known designer for New York and Washington movers and shakers….Ann Lowe was not credited for these gowns! I am featuring two books, the only two I could find, keep you eyes out for a novel to be published on June 22, 2022, the last image

I featured a book by Petra Slinkard in my monthly nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club….both these designers are highlighted in this extraordinary book…another to add to your library

Stay tuned for Part 2 of my Books…Books…Books: Black Fashion Designer Books posts next week. Lots more to explore.


  1. LA CONTESSA February 11, 2022 / 4:29 pm


    • nenasnotes February 11, 2022 / 4:56 pm

      Thank you so much for your comments….

  2. Edwards Buice February 12, 2022 / 1:23 pm

    Thank you for the book recommendations about African-American designers who are unknown to the general public. I am excited to order the bios and learn more about their positive contributions to the fashion industry. I am going to share your blog on the AICI Chicago Midwest’s Facebook and LinkedIn pages.

    • nenasnotes February 12, 2022 / 1:32 pm

      Thank you so much. The post is the first of several, stayed tuned. I am honored that you will share my blog with the AICI Chicago, thank you.

  3. pineconesandacorns February 15, 2022 / 12:45 am

    Thank you for the book recommendations. I am familiar with the friendship of Mary Todd Lincoln and Elizabeth Keckley but I had no idea about Ann Lee Cole and her association with Jacqueline Kennedy. It is so true, you do learn something new every day! Thank you for sharing. I would love to include this post (with links back to you) in my Friday Favorites blog post. Happy Valentine’s Day!

    • nenasnotes February 15, 2022 / 1:48 am

      Thank you…yes, of you can include my post…..I am beyond appreciative!

    • nenasnotes February 18, 2022 / 2:36 pm

      Thank you so much for including nenasnotes in your incredible pinecones and acorns blog….I am beyond honored!

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