Monday, January 7, 2013

The Queen of Prep -- Lilly Pulitzer

I remember my freshman year of college, my roommate at the time, who was born and raised in the Carolinas, started going on and on and on about how much she hated it when her dad would come to visit because he'd always bring her a Lilly dress and that just wasn't her style anymore.

A "Lilly" dress?  What does that mean?  Being from up north, I had no idea, until she showed me a Lilly Pulitzer dress.  What she showed me at the time, a bright, crazy, beach-y print, was not something I would ever have worn, so I related with her.  I probably even made a face.  Whatever her dad had gotten her was hideous and that was the last time I had ever saw it.

Years later, though, as I was living in California and really starting to get into vintage, I came to love Lilly Pulitzer and her designs of the past.  They were creative and colorful, with a lot of care thrown in to the designs.  I remember going to American Vintage in Echo Park and finding a great, subdued Lilly print dress in beiges.  It's was beautiful.  Too big, but beautiful, so I bought it anyways and eventually sold it in the shop.

Nowadays, since I am back in the South, I always look for vintage prints by her and usually can't keep them in stock.  She's loved by many and her bright colors really draw attention and make a statement.

Here's a little backstory on Ms Lilly Pulitzer:

The old saying, "It's all in who you know..." could not ring any truer than in the case of Lilly Pulitzer.  Her former schoolmate Jaqueline Kennedy wore one of her designs on the cover of LIFE magazine, and the rest is history.

After eloping and moving from New York to Palm Beach, Lilly started a juice stand with the citrus from her husband's groves.  While working, she noticed that the juice would spray and make a mess of her clothes.  Her solution?  A colorfully printed, sleeveless cotton, shift dress, the first of many "Lilly's." 

To this day, the brand still thrives on the colorful prints it was founded on. Bright, beachy colors with feminine prints compose shift dresses, comfy skirts, pants, and even housewares, all with a hidden "Lilly" written somewhere in the design.

Lilly thrived for over twenty years creating her designs and prints, but in 1984, she decided it just wasn't as fun as it used to be, and closed up shop. In 1993 the line was revived with Lilly acting as a creative consultant, and it still holds the same intentions and ideas as before: making simple, comfortable items in crazy, fun prints for everybody.

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