French drawing room at Hillwood


Enjoy enriching and educational programming year-round.

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Frederick J. Fisher Lecture | Ann Lowe: American Couturier

This program is the eleventh annual lecture honoring the legacy of Hillwood's former executive director, Frederick J. Fisher. 

Picture of a dress designed Ann Lowe.Ann Lowe (c. 1898-1981) may not be a well-known name in fashion history, yet she is the creative mind and skilled hand behind gowns that graced some of America’s most influential women, including Jacqueline Kennedy, Olivia de Havilland, and Marjorie Merriweather Post. Trained as a child by her grandmother and mother—formerly enslaved women and highly skilled dressmakers—Lowe’s career spans the 1910s through the 1960s. She specialized in extraordinary made-to-measure designs with elaborate handmade details for America’s elite society women. Lowe built a career on her exemplary talents that weathered significant changes in fashion, as well as American culture. 

This lecture will be presented by Elizabeth Way, the Associate Curator of Costume at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, and guest curator of the exhibition Ann Lowe: American Couturier exhibition at Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library, on view from September 9, 2023 through January 7, 2024. Way is also the author of Ann Lowe: American Couturier, which she will be signing copies of after the lecture.

The gown pictured here, part of Hillwood's collection, is featured at Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library as part of the Ann Lowe: American Couturier exhibition. 

Portrait gown
Attributed to Ann Lowe (American, c. 1898-1981)
New York, 1952
Silk faille, cotton, synthetic horsehair, tarlatan
Bequest of Marjorie Merriweather Post, (48.106)


This lecture will be presented in the theater in the Ellen MacNeille Charles Visitor Center and will be livestreamed via Zoom. Visitors can submit questions for the speaker from any location. 


5:30–6:30 p.m. | Explore Hillwood

6 p.m. | Reception 

  • All attendees are invited to a free reception to celebrate and honor Frederick J. Fisher, for whom the lecture is named. 

6:30–7:30 p.m. | Lecture 

7:30 p.m. | Book signing. Ann Lowe: American Couturier will be available for purchase in the museum shop. You can learn more about the book and purchase from the museum shop's online store here.


Elizabeth Way is Associate Curator of Costume at The Museum Headshot of Elizabeth the Fashion Institute of Technology. Her past exhibitions include Black Fashion Designers (2016), Fabric In Fashion (2018), and Food & Fashion (2023). She is guest curator of Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library’s exhibition Ann Lowe: American Couturier (September 9, 2023-January 7, 2024). Way’s personal research focuses on the intersection of Black American culture and fashion. She edited and authored chapters in Black Designers in American Fashion (2021). She holds an M.A. in Costume Studies from New York University where she wrote her master’s thesis on Ann Lowe and Elizabeth Keckly.