Author Talk with Piper Huguley of By Her Own Design

Presented on: Wednesday, May 8th at 5:00 PM CDT


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Piper G. Huguley’s biographical historical fiction, By Her Own Design: a novel of Ann Lowe, Fashion Designer to the Social Register (William Morrow Publishing) tells the inspiring story of the Black fashion designer of Jackie Kennedy’s wedding dress. By Her Own Design was a Booklist top 100 Editor’s Choice selection for 2022 and was named one of the top 100 books of 2022 in Canada by the Globe and Mail newspaper.

She is also the author of Sweet Tea by Hallmark Publishing and the author of two historical romance series: “Migrations of the Heart”, about the Great Migration and “Home to Milford College”. Her next historical fiction book, American Daughters (2024), is the story of the decades-long interracial friendship between Alice Roosevelt and Portia Washington, the rebel teenage daughters of President Theodore Roosevelt and Booker T. Washington, respectively. She is a literature professor at Clark-Atlanta University and blogs about the history behind her novels at http://piperhuguley.com . She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and son.

 

The incredible untold story of Ann Lowe, Jackie Kennedy's wedding dress designer, a Black woman who made some of the most famous dresses of all time, only to be forgotten by history.

1953, New York City

Less than a week before the society wedding of the year where Jacqueline Bouvier will marry John F. Kennedy, Jr, a pipe bursts at Ann Lowe's dress shop and ruins eleven dresses, including the expensive wedding dress, a dress that will be judged by thousands. A Black designer who has fought every step of the way, Ann knows this is only one struggle after a lifetime of them. She and her seamstresses will find the way to re-create the dresses. It may take all day and all night for the next two weeks to accomplish the task, but they will do it.

1918, Tampa

Raised in Jim Crow Alabama, Ann learned the art of sewing from her mother and her grandmother, a former slave, who are the most talented seamstresses in the state. After Ann elopes at twelve with an older man who soon proves himself to be an abusive alcoholic, her dreams of becoming a celebrated designer seem to be put on hold. But then a wealthy Tampa socialite sees Ann's talent and offers her an amazing opportunity--the chance to sew and design clothing for Florida's society elite. Taking her young son in the middle of the night, Ann escapes her husband and embarks on the adventure of a lifetime.

Based on the true story of one of the most famous designers of the twenties through the sixties who has since been unjustly forgotten, By Design is an unforgettable novel of determination despite countless obstacles and a triumph celebrated by the world.


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