Lilly Pulitzer was born around 1935 (her name was actually Roslyn) in New York, United States. Lilly Pulitzer is a socialite and prominent fashion designer.
Lilly Pulitzer was christened Lillian Lee McKim to a socialite family in Roslyn, New York in 1931; Lilly Lee was her nickname among her friends. She was a middle child with an older sister, Mary Maude (called Memsey) and a younger sister Florence Fitch (Flossie).
She attended the Chapin School in New York City, along with the Bouvier sisters, Jacqueline and Lee. In 1949, she graduated from Miss Porter's School in Farmington, Connecticut. She attended the college-cum-finishing school Fitch in New York City, but left after one semester to work as a midwife's assistant in West Virginia and as a volunteer at the Veterans Hospital in The Bronx.
She married Peter Pulitzer, grandson of the Pulitzer Prize's Joseph Pulitzer and settled in Palm Beach, Florida. In 1960, she was a bored housewife, and to keep herself busy, she started selling fruit juice.
In the course of working at the juice stand, Lilly found that squeezing juice made a mess of her clothes. Seeking to camouflage the juice stains, Lilly asked her dressmaker to design a sleeveless shift dress made of bright, colorful printed cotton. Lilly loved the dress that was produced for her, and it would later become her "Classic Shift Dress."
Lilly quickly found that customers loved her dress, so she had her dressmaker produce more in order to sell at her juice stand. Soon, however, she was selling more dresses than juice, so she decided to stop selling juice and instead focus on designing and selling what had become known as her "Lillys." Lilly's shift dresses suddenly became a fashion sensation.
She founded a company in Palm Beach, Florida, USA. She could not sew, but was able to translate her ideas to seamstresses, who made up her designs into dresses. Lilly put her signature on every dress and initially sold them from a stall, then as she got more prosperous, she opened a boutique.
She popularized a one-piece brightly printed cotton dress, which became
known as a "Lilly.
Her company also sold A-line skirts and dresses in unusual colour combinations, such as pink and green which were her trademarks along with bold floral prints with butterflies and chrysanthemums.
Lilly Pulitzer's clothes were popular with society women and she opened boutiques throughout the USA. Her dresses were successful for about 25 years. She closed her company in 1984.
In 1969, Lilly and Peter were divorced. She married Enrique Rousseau shortly thereafter. Although she legally changed her name to "Lillian McKim Rousseau," her clothing company continued to operate under the "Lilly Pulitzer" label with amazing success. Lilly continued to enjoy Palm Beach life, watching her children and grandchildren grow up. Enrique died from cancer in 1993 just as the fashion label was revived.
Thus, it came as a surprise to the fashion world when in January 1993 Lilly Pulitzer allowed her line to be revived. Lilly is not involved in the day to day administration of the company, but she continues to serve in the role of creative consultant, approving new designs, fabrics, and collections. Good sales have inspired branching out into other product lines. The company also produces Lilly bedding, men's clothing, children's clothing, maternity clothes, shoes, jewelry, and accessories. Today, the company maintains 70 Lilly Pulitzer Signature Stores, several company-owned retail stores, and sells in major department stores such as Bloomingdale's, Nordstrom, and Neiman Marcus.
Lilly Pulitzer clothing has once again become popular now.
Lilly Pulitzer, now in her 60's, is still keeping an eye on the company. She recently made a store appearance to introduce the new Fall collection and signed autographs on Lilly skirts.
Vintage Lilly may be hard to come by, but the new dresses in prints and colours we all love are available from the Florida stores.
In August 2003, Llily was called upon by the Ford Company Campaign against Breast Cancer. She designed this lovely scarf as a fitting symbol and it is being sold by the thousands as aid for this very worthy cause.
In 2006/7, the Lilly Pulitzer identity was rebranded to bring Lilly's aesthetic to a whole new generation and audience to include a men's line and home collection.