Chronicle Books


Only the Best

The Exceptional Life and Fashion of Ann Lowe
Kate Messner ; Margaret E. Powell ; Erin K. Robinson
An inspiring picture book biography about the amazing Ann Lowe—the first nationally-known African American fashion designer.  A careful snip, a delicate fold.Fabric the color of new petals.Skirts that flare like upside-down ...
Full Description

★ — “Readers may not have heard of Lowe before reading this book, but afterwards, they’re unlikely to forget her.”
—Booklist, starred review


An inspiring picture book biography about the amazing Ann Lowe—the first nationally-known African American fashion designer. 
A careful snip, a delicate fold.
Fabric the color of new petals.
Skirts that flare like upside-down blossoms.
A garden bursts into bloom!
There is no "good enough."
For Ann, only the best will do.

Award-winning author Kate Messner, costume historian Margaret E. Powell, and fashion designer and illustrator Erin Robinson tell the powerful story of the ground-breaking Ann Lowe, who grew up in a small Alabama dress shop and became the first nationally-known African American fashion designer. Sought after by millionaires and movie stars, her designs walked the red carpet and graced the wedding of Senator John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier.
At a time when the world around her thought African Americans deserved no more than second-class treatment, Ann expected no less than very best for herself.
THE FIRST, FAMED BLACK FASHION DESIGNER: Although she faced many hardships, Ann's spirit, talent, and belief in herself always shone through. This story provides an empowering, real-life role model for young girls—and especially Black girls—to relate to and see themselves in, at an age when building self-confidence is more important than ever.
ENCOURAGES CREATIVITY AND PERSERVERENCE: Full of interesting details about how Ann came up with her designs, and how she always forged ahead in spite of setbacks, this true story will captivate aspiring artists and young creative thinkers alike.
SURE OF HER OWN WORTH: This book makes a perfect gift for anyone looking to celebrate, empower, and inspire the women in their lives—whether daughters, granddaughters, nieces, cousins, or friends. Ann Lowe is a testament to the power of knowing we're both capable of and deserve ONLY THE BEST!
BEAUTIFUL, IMMERSIVE PROSE: Wonderful, vivacious writing by award-winning author Kate Messner and expert historian Margaret E. Powell brings Ann's pride in herself and her work to life in rich detail.
Perfect for:

  • Parents, grandparents, and caregivers
  • Teachers and librarians
  • Readers who loved Little Leaders and Parker Looks Up
  • Anyone seeking books about Black excellence, female empowerment, or Black history
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 68
Size: 9 X 12 V
Age Range: 5 - 8 Years
Publication Date: 10/18/2022
ISBN: 9781452161600
Kate Messner is the New York Times bestselling author of more than fifty books for young readers. She's passionately curious and writes books for kids who wonder, too. Her titles include award-winning picture books, easy readers, chapter books, novels, and nonfiction. Kate lives on Lake Champlain with her family and is trying to summit all 46 Adirondack High Peaks in between book deadlines.

Margaret E. Powell was a decorative arts historian and a curatorial assistant at Pittsburgh's Carnegie Museum of Art. Before that, she served as a costume historian and researcher at the Winterthur Museum in Wilmington, Delaware. She wrote her master's thesis on Ann Lowe and the hidden history of fashion and was instrumental in bringing long overdue attention to Lowe's work. Margaret was organizing a major exhibition about Ann Lowe's life and fashion before she passed away in 2019.

Erin Robinson is an Emmy-Award-nominated artist and a fashion designer. She studied at Parsons School of Design and the Corcoran School of Art. As a fashion designer, she's worked for Gap, OshKosh, Sears, and The Children's Place. As an artist, her work has appeared in the New York Times, Village Voice, Essence, and the Washington Post. She works in a variety of media, including watercolor, acrylic, ink, charcoal, collage, and digital, and currently divides her time between Washington, D.C., and New York.

★ — “Readers may not have heard of Lowe before reading this book, but afterwards, they’re unlikely to forget her.”
Booklist, starred review

★— “Robinson’s digital art, full of textures, curves, and color, is perfectly suited to the subject, while Messner and Powell’s evocative, often alliterative text begs to be read aloud….A deserving tribute to a designer who wanted only the best.”
Kirkus, starred review

★ “This picture book biography is as elegant as its subject—African American fashion designer Ann Lowe….Using repetition and lyrical language, the authors emphasize her determination….artist Robinson creates dimension, texture, and movement with her collage illustrations. The textiles float and flow; depictions of Lowe’s creations are as lush and effervescent as the real garments…. A stylish biography worthy of inclusion on all shelves.” 
School Library Journal, starred review