Rating 4.5 stars
By Her Own Design by Piper Hugely is a fictionalized account of real life designer Ann Lowe, who created the wedding dress of Jackie Kennedy and many other famous dresses. I had never heard of Ann Lowe until reading this book, and I love when a book teaches me a new piece of history. I have been in a bit of a reading slump recently, and this book was just what I needed. With Piper Huguley’s beautiful writing style, beautiful descriptions of design materials, and ability to invoke emotional connection to the characters, this is one of the best books I have read in a long time.
As a Black woman born in Alabama, Ann Lowe undergoes many harsh difficulties- everything from racism, domestic abuse, divorce, loss of family, health issues, and financial struggles as she eventually opens her own dress shop. As the only Black student in design school, she is forced to study in a separate room from her classmates. She has to work twice as hard to be taken seriously as a designer and an artist. Despite the many spectacular dresses she designs, she is often not given proper credit for her work. Yet, she is a strong, successful woman who manages to keep her head high and persevere through adversity.
There are so many things I enjoyed about this book. It has strong character development, and we really get to know Ann’s life in depth. My favourite part was the bond Ann has with her family and the “good white people,” as she calls them. The love and support in these relationships is so heartwarming and helped me connect to the story. This is a fast paced story and can easily be read in a couple of sittings. I highly recommend this one.
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