Skip to main content Smithsonian Institution

Catalog Data

Designed by:
Ann Lowe, American, 1898 - 1981  Search this
Worn by:
Barbara Baldwin Dowd, American  Search this
Subject of:
Black Fashion Museum, American, 1979 - 2007  Search this
silk, tulle, linen, metal, and elastic
Waist: 23", Length: 53", Hem: 85"
Storage: 25.4 x 152.4 x 55.9 cm (10 x 60 x 22 in.)
Place made:
New York City, New York, United States, North and Central America
An ivory dress decorated with swirls of handmade fabric rose vines, designed by Ann Lowe. The variety of rose depicted on the dress is the American Beauty, which has led to it being called the "American Beauty" dress. The bodice of the dress is sleeveless, with a scoop neck front, princess seams and a deep "v" in the back reaching to the waist. The skirt of the dress has a flat front, and the skirt gathers toward the center-back waist with box pleats to create a small bustle silhouette. Green silk vines and leaves, covered in two-toned pink rose blooms and buds, begin at each front shoulder above the bust, cover both shoulders, and run along the edges of the open back bodice to the center back. On the proper right side, one (1) small vine continues below the waist and wraps around the hip to the front of the skirt. On the proper left side, two (2) longer vines continue below the waist and wrap around to the front of the skirt, the longest ending just above the hemline and wrapping all the way around to the proper right front. The dress closes up the center back with a silver zipper that begins below the center back waist and ends above the waist. Two (2) large roses in full bloom are attached at the center back waist.
The interior of the bodice is lined with ivory fabric. In the front and back of the bodice, boning is sewn at regular intervals to provide structure and shaping. Individual breast cups are shaped into the cut of the garment. A thin piece of elastic, attached in three places at the proper left, center front and proper right, provides support underneath the bust line. Thin shoulder straps made of the same material as the lining are tacked to the interior of the outer straps. A wider elastic band is tacked at the center front and closes in the center back with two hook-and-eyes to provide further bust support. An interior waistband of cream grosgrain ribbon is tacked to the interior waistline and closes at the center back with two (2) hook-and-eyes. The interior of the skirt is lined with light cream silk knit. The skirt has one (1) petticoat, made of ivory faille and lined with heavy linen that attaches to the waist at the center back with a hook-and-eye. The bottom of the petticoat has a tulle ruffle and is edged with stiffener.
African American  Search this
Clothing and dress  Search this
Design  Search this
Fashion  Search this
Fashion design  Search this
Social life and customs  Search this
Women  Search this
Credit Line:
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of the Black Fashion Museum founded by Lois K. Alexander-Lane
Object number:
Restrictions & Rights:
No Known Copyright Restrictions
Proper usage is the responsibility of the user.
See more items in:
National Museum of African American History and Culture Collection
Collection title:
Black Fashion Museum Collection
Data Source:
National Museum of African American History and Culture