Iconic fashion designer Lilly Pulitzer died this week at the age of 81. I’ve enjoyed her brand for years both as an observer and a participant.
Lilly’s story is fascinating. At age 21 she eloped with Peter Pulitzer and they traded the hustle and bustle of New York City for the sun and sand of Palm Beach. In the shadow of Peter’s citrus groves, Lilly opened a juice stand. To disguise the juice stains on her clothing she had a sleeveless dress made from colorfully-printed cotton.
Lilly Pulitzer the clothing label was born. The “classic shift dress” shot to international fame and demand when Lilly’s old schoolmate Jacqueline Kennedy, now the First Lady, was photographed wearing a “Lilly” while on vacation.
“Jackie wore one of my dresses – it was made from kitchen curtain material – and people went crazy. They took off like zingo. Everybody loved them, and I went into the dress business,” she says in her book, Essentially Lilly, A Guide to Colorful Entertaining.
Today I dropped by her Palm Avenue store in Raleigh to pay tribute (okay not really, just to see the great STUFF), and had to capture a few photos that illustrate her amazing knack for fabrics, color, and style.