Wednesday, November 10, 2010

STYLE ICON: Lilly Pulitzer

Lilly McKim Pulitzer Rousseau
Born Lillian Lee McKim on November 10, 1931, 'Lilly Lee' as she was known to her friends, was a socialite from Long Island when she eloped with Peter Pulitzer in 1950. Settling in Palm Beach, Florida to raise her family, she decided to start a juice stand with the produce from the Pulitzer citrus groves to keep herself busy. The awful price of squeezing all those juicy oranges was that it really did a number on Mrs. Pulitzer's clothes and lucky for us it did. Otherwise she wouldn't have gone on to whip up the famous colourful, sleeveless cotton shift that became known as the "Classic Shift Dress".

Receiving numerous compliments and inquiries about her vibrantly patterned dresses, she had some made up to sell along side her juice stand. When the clothing sales started to surpass the juice sales, Lilly decided it was time to change the inventory line-up and the rest as they say was history.

The Kennedys in Lilly Pulitzer.

With socialites and famous celebrities like First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy (a former schoolmate from the Chapin School) seen sporting her dresses, everyone and anyone wanting to look like they had summered in Palm Beach could be found sporting a Lilly Pulitzer design. The bold graphics of monkeys, palm trees, strawberries and alligators adorning the shifts became an emblematic uniform for the well-to-do, paving the way for a new nickname for Lilly, the 'Queen of Prep'.

Touted as 'must haves' in 'The Official Preppy Handbook', the brightly coloured shift dresses, and eventually pants, skirts, tops and accessories, reached the height of their first wave of popularity in the 1980's, the decade of Muffy and Skip.
So it came as quite a shock when Lilly P. decided to retire and close up shop in 1984 so that she could spend more time with her family.

Luckily for the groves of fans, young and old, who continued to prize their iconic garments, she allowed her line to be brought back to life in 1993 and has continued to be as popular today as it was in the heyday of 'barefoot elegance'.

Rest in Peace Lilly...


Let The Tide Pull Your Dreams Ashore said...

Happy Birthday LP! xx

High Heeled Life said...

What a wonderful birthday tribute!! Happy Birthday LP... How have you been my friend? xo HHL

BaronessVonVintage said...

fascinating history behind this preppy perky label!

Sandy at Ooh La Frou Frou said...

What an inspiration. Love Lilly Pulitzer bright and happy colors! xo

Beth Dunn said...

Love it!

Dumbwit Tellher said...

A perfect tribute to an amazing woman. Such a great read.

Happy birthday indeed to Lilly P.!

x Deb

Hill House Ramblings said...

Ohhh, a wonderful piece on LP. Bravo! I loved the video too. Happy Birthday Lilly!


JMW said...

To have built such an empire just starting with a lemonade stand and a simple shift dress - who knew?? Happy birthday, Ms. Lilly!

Town and Country Mom said...

Great post!

Pink Champagne said...

Thank you so much for all the history - I thought I knew it all, and I learned a thing or two! Isn't she just FAB?! XO

bevy said...

Love the Lilly lesson!