Saturday, April 16, 2011

It's Not Spring without Lilly Pulitzer

Lilly Pulitzer clothing is known for its fresh, fun approach to color and patterns.


Lillian Lee McKim was born into a socialite family in 1931. In 1950 she eloped with Peter Pulitzer, grandson of Joseph Pulitzer of Pulitzer Prize fame and they settled in Palm Beach, Florida. Peter owned several orange groves, so Lilly decided to open a juice stand on Via Mizner to sell homemade juice made with her husband's produce. Because she got messy making her fresh squeezed juice she asked her seamstress to design an easy to wash, colorful, patterned shift dress for her - hence The Lilly shift dress was born. Soon patrons of her juice stand took notice of Lilly's unique dresses and wanted to buy them, so she started selling them.

First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, who was a friend and former classmate of Lilly's, was one of the first celebrities to be seen wearing Lilly's new dresses and was even featured in Life Magazine wearing one, which helped to launch the brand.

Peter and Lilly divorced in 1969 and shortly after she married Enrique Rousseau and, while she changed her name to Lillian McKim Rousseau, she continued the business name of Lilly Pulitzer.

The brand was popular through the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, but in 1984 Lilly decided to retire and shut down the entire operation. When she did so, she discarded the design archives, so older prints are hard to identify, although there were some distinctive ones shown below, such as "Streaker," "Disney," and "Bicentennial" (featuring Ben Franklin). In 1993 the brand was revived, and while Lilly is not involved in the day-to-day operation, she does serve as a creative consultant.

In addition to clothing for women, children, and men, the revived Lilly brand has branched out into bedding (now discontinued), fabrics, perfumes, candles, purses, stationery, sunglasses, and shoes. The brand is sold in 70 Lilly Pulitzer Signature stores, several company owned stores, and upscale department stores such as Bloomingdales, Neiman Marcus and Nordstroms and of course eBay is a terrific source for bygone prints you may have missed the first time around and terrific vintage patterns. I'm currently offering the following Lilly items in my eBay store:

Liza Capris in Cuba Libre - Size 0

Lilly Capris in Twist - Size 0

Ford Breast Cancer Cotton Bandana - So Cute for the Preppy Pooch

Lenore Skort in Zoo Patch - Size 8

Liza Capris in Crabby - Size 6

Clubhouse Plaid Skort - Size 6

Silk Scallop Hem Skirt - Size 8

Croc Monsieur Strapless Dress - Size 6

A-Maze-ing Lenore Skort - Size 6

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