Fashioning America: African American Designers and Dressmakers Virtual Program
Fashion is a powerful tool used to signal wealth and status. But who were the dressmakers skillfully creating the garments for privileged Newporters? Theresa Guzmán Stokes, President of 1696 Heritage Group and Executive Director of the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society, will present the life and history of dressmaker Mary Dickerson (1830-1914). Dickerson owned a “Fashionable Dressmaking Establishment” located off Bellevue Avenue and created dresses for the prominent people of Newport during the Gilded Age. She also established the first federation of African American Women’s Clubs in Rhode Island. Elaine Nichols, Supervisory Curator of Culture at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, will join us to discuss the life and work of Ann Lowe (1898-1981), one of America’s most significant designers. Lowe created the bridal gown and bridal party dresses for the Newport wedding of Jacqueline Bouvier and John F. Kennedy in 1953, although she was not credited for her work at the time. Ms. Nichols and Ms. Stokes will discuss the prejudices that Dickerson and Lowe faced and why it is important to remember their valuable contributions to fashion and history. For this virtual program, attending via Zoom will cost $10 per person.
- $10 Zoom (members and non-members)
Pictured: Executive Board Members of the Women’s League of Newport, RI. Mary Dickerson is center, back row. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.
Institution or Organization name - The Preservation Society of Newport County