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Ingrid Schorr

curator, fashion designer, dancer, and artist, was born James Watson in rural Woodruff, South Carolina, to sharecropper parents whose names are unknown. Little information about his early years is available except that he attended the Fashion Institute of New York and studied at the Sorbonne in Paris before moving to New York in the 1960s.

As Chanticleer established himself as a fashion designer in New York City he also began to propagate the biographical embellishments and falsehoods that would be repeated until his death: that he was born in Harlem to a Barbadian concert pianist and a Haitian high school principal; that he completed a master's degree at the Sorbonne; that as a five-year-old he designed a prize-winning folding chair for a competition at the 1940 World's Fair.

Whether or not he grew up in Harlem Chanticleer identified so strongly with its place at the center of black history and ...


Elizabeth Way

fashion designer, was born in Clayton, Alabama, to Jack Lowe and Janey Cole Lowe. Little is known of Jack Lowe, however Janey Lowe and her mother, Georgia Cole, were talented dressmakers. The family moved to Montgomery, Alabama, when Ann was a young child, and her mother and grandmother ran a successful business, designing gowns for the wealthy white women of the city. They taught Ann their skills, and by the age of five she could recreate flowers from the garden with their fabric scraps. Though many women could sew in the early twentieth century, Lowe learned advanced dressmaking techniques that equipped her to create couture-quality gowns, as well as to own and operate her own business, a rare achievement for a black woman at the time.

In December 1914 Janey Lowe died leaving the sixteen year old Ann to finish four gowns ordered by the first lady of ...


costume and fashion designer, was born Zelda Barbour in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. She was the eldest of seven children of Blanche Christian Barbour, a homemaker, and James Barbour, a cook on the Pennsylvania Railroad. Zelda received a Catholic school education that included training in music. As was typical for girls growing up in the early twentieth century, she learned to sew as a child by making doll clothes. She refined her technique observing her grandmother's skilled dressmaking and recalled in a 1994 interview (Gonzalez, 1994) that at a young age she made a dress for her grandmother that so pleased the older woman that she was buried in it.

During her long career Zelda Valdes was known by various names including Zelda Valdes Zelda Wynn Valdes and Zelda Wynn Her career in fashion began when she moved to White Plains New York as a teenager where she worked in ...