Designers

Fashion Biography

Lilly Pulitzer, Fashion Designer

It all started with a juice stand in Palm Beach. Lilly, a young, sassy New York socialite had eloped with Peter Pulitzer, grandson of the Pulitzer Prize"s Joseph Pulitzer and settled in Palm Beach to live the life of the rich and famous. Peter owned several Florida citrus groves, but Lilly needed a project of her own. So in 1960, with Peter"s produce, she opened a juice stand on Via Mizner, just off Worth Avenue in Palm Beach.

╩╩╩╩ Lilly Pulitzer"s business was a hit, but squeezing oranges, lemons, limes, and pink grapefruit made a mess of her clothes. Realizing that she needed a juice stand uniform, Lilly asked her dressmaker to design a dress that would camouflage the stains. The result? A comfortable sleeveless shift made of bright, colorful printed cotton pink, green, yellow and orange. The dress even had custom dressmaker details like lining and lace seam bindings. It was perfect for the job and became Lilly"s first Classic Shift.

╩╩╩╩ Although her customers liked Lilly"s juice, they loved her dress. When people began to ask if they could buy the dress, Lilly had a few more made up to sell in the stand. Soon Lilly was selling more dresses than juice, so she decided to stop squeezing and to focus on designing and selling her Lillys. Before long, Jackie Kennedy, an old school chum, began wearing Lillys and as First Lady was featured in Life Magazine wearing a Classic Shift. Then, of course, everyone wanted one and Lilly Pulitzer became a fashion sensation.

╩╩╩╩Through the sixties and seventies, the Lilly Pulitzer line was the unofficial uniform of the affluent at play. Lilly Pulitzer stores sprang up in the favorite resorts of the jet set and Lilly"s pink and green colors became the banner of the preppy lifestyle. In 1984, however, Lilly closed her doors to settle into retirement with her second husband, Enrique Rousseau (her marriage to Peter had ended in 1969) and to enjoy her grandchildren. For the rest of the decade, Lilly devotees were left to scour flea markets and re sale shops to find their beloved vintage Lillys.

╩╩╩╩In January 1993, the Lilly Pulitzer line was revived. Now, Lilly Pulitzer is more popular than ever! The Lilly Pulitzer line is now available in 75 Signature Shops, major department stores, and fine specialty stores nationwide. Its popularity continues to grow among those who knew it years ago and those who have just discovered the timeless fun of Lilly Pulitzer apparel.
╩╩╩╩Lilly is alive and well today. She often entertains her various family members and friends in her home in Palm Beach, which she affectionately calls The Jungle.

Jim Bradbeer and Scott Beaumont acquired the Lilly Pulitzer trademark in 1993 and are now the company"s owners. Distribution is by way of about fifty specialty shops, a catalog (available only at the specialty shops), select department stores, and through the company"s new Web site.

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By Courtney Lynne
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