I love anything tropical. I think it comes from spending many a holiday in the Caribbean when I was a child. I remember my Mum and I picking bright red Hibiscus flowers to tuck behind our ears, the blue of the ocean and the subtle pink of the sand….
It was on a trip to Barbados 8 years ago that I came across the work of one of the most colourful fashion designers the world must surely have seen. Lily Pulitzer. It was from this moment that my adoration of her designs developed.
Lily’s dresses, pants, shirts and accessories are completely fabulous. She isn’t known as the ‘Queen of Pink and Green’ for nothing ! Vibrant, gorgeous floral prints are her main ‘look’ made into simple shift dresses and slacks perfect for hot weather dressing.
I adore the heady mix of colours and chose to embrace Lily’s sense of fun and style which is displayed so beautifully in her work by wearing her designs.
Lily Pulitzer launched her business in the 1950’s in Palm Beach, Florida.
A socialite with time on her hands and married to a wealthy citrus grove owner she decided to open a juice stand on a busy street.
Rather than wear aprons to stop the juice splashes Lily had simple sleeveless dresses run up in bold tropical prints to hide the stains. Although the juice was selling well, it was the dresses that grabbed the customers attention. She had 12 shift dresses made up as a trial run and hung them by the juice bar and the rest is history!
It was these dresses that would lead her to become one of the most iconic and popular designers of our time. Her dresses became the staples of American preppy high society ladies.
In the 1960’s the Kennedy’s paid a visit to Palm Beach. ‘Jack had just been elected president. The eyes of the whole world were on Palm Beach. Jackie wore one of my dresses – it was made from kitchen curtain material-and people went crazy. They took of like zingy. Everybody loved them, and I went into the dress business.’
Lily Pulitzer, (Essential Lily, Harper Resource 2004)
And so this the moment that catapulted her business forward in a totally new direction and led to her amazing success. She branched out into men’s wear, children’s wear, interiors, gifts, even Lily surfboards, all in her tropical delightful colour palette and stunning prints.
The business took a slight knock in the power dressing 1980’s but soon regained a following after that. It is now supremely popular once again.
I have a number of Lily items, one of which is a book by the lady herself.
To be inspired by an array of beautiful entertaining ideas and wonderful resort clothing do have a look at ‘Essential Lily, A guide to colourful entertaining’ Full of gorgeous inspirational photography, recipes and sketches it will feed your desire for the bright hues of Florida.
If you holiday in The States you will find many stores selling Lily Pulitzer especially on the Eastern Seaboard. You may also notice a high number of her items being worn in places such as Cape Cod and Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard and Rhode Island.
We are unable to buy her items in the Uk at present so I always make an attempt to buy some of her pieces when I have the opportunity in the USA. Whenever I wear one of her beautiful dresses I never fail to be complemented which is lovely.
It was extremely sad earlier this year that Lily, one of my most inspiring idols passed away. Her legacy and wonderful style remains and will continue in her absence and her fans are sure to remain loyal. She is known to have inspired Tory Burch (another one of my favourites) and Millie New York (yes that’s another favourite too!) with their design careers.
Lily Pulitzer – The Queen of Pink and Green (b- Nov 10 1931 d- Apr 7 2013)
With love xx