There is a popular saying that goes—“If life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” Designer Lilly Pulitzer did just that, when she decided to make colorful dresses to disguise the juice stains on her clothing.
When 21-year-old Lilly eloped with Peter Pulitzer they settled in Palm Beach, where he owned several Florida citrus groves. Enterprising Lilly opened a juice stand in the early ’50s & found that squeezing oranges made a mess of her clothes. To eliminate the problem she designed a sleeveless print shift out of bright colorful cotton. Eventually Lilly was selling more customer-ordered dresses than juice. First Lady Jackie Kennedy (who was Pulitzer’s schoolmate) wore one of the dresses while vacationing and the rest became history. After the photographs hit the tabloids people everywhere wanted Lilly Pulitzer’s designs.
Lilly Pulitzer, Inc. was launched in 1959, with Lilly at the helm. From the 1960’s to the early 1980’s the Lilly Pulitzer brand reigned as the signature resort look for “preppy” women. The line featured skirts & dresses in unusual color combinations. Pink & Green became the trademark along with bold floral prints with butterflies & chrysanthemums. The colorful clothes were worn by the elites such as Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis & members of the Rockefeller, Vanderbilt & Whitney families for 25 years. Despite this household name status, the entire clothing operation was closed down in 1984.
In January 1993 Lilly Pulitzer allowed her line to be revived. She continues to be to be involved in the role of creative consultant, approving new designs, fabric and collections – not to mention insuring that her signature “lilly” moniker is cheekily hidden in every print. The company maintains 70 Lilly Pulitzer Signature Stores and sells in major department stores. As originally created, the designs lend themselves to coastal resort wear and can be found in destinations such as the Hamptons and Palm springs. Other products such as bedding, children’s clothing, men’s clothing, shoes, jewelry & accessories have been added to the line.
Many of the Lilly Pulitzer Signature Stores are located in resorts, such as Pinkalicious located in the LaCosta Resort, Carlsbad, California. It is hard to resist the cheerful, breezy look of a Lilly Pulitzer design. The entire collection is a tribute to “fun in the sun”.
Designer website: www.lillypulitzer.com