Over the weekend many of us heard the sad news that, at the age of 81, Lilly Pulitzer passed away. There are many ways a fashion designer can, in theory, leave a legacy, and I’m at a loss for words in this case. Did she define a style for a generation? For jet-setting elites? For a region? In the case of Lilly Pulitzer, it was so much more than that.
Her iconic prints span multiple generations, and will for many more to come. Lilly’s tropical designs defy not only age but social strata, and can be found all over the world, in climates warm and cold, injecting a dose of cheerfulness and whimsy into any locale.
These days, many designers aspire to create a “lifestyle” brand, a point of view that’s narrow enough to be easily identified, yet broad enough to apply across multiple consumer categories. Lilly was the very embodiment of a lifestyle brand long before it became a marketing buzzword.
If you know the story of Lilly Pulitzer, then you know she ran a juice stand in Palm Beach, and designed a few lively print dresses simply as a way to hide the juice stains that were a daily occupational hazard. Soon, customers were more interested in her dresses than her juice and the rest is history.
Today, her simple shift dress has come to represent so much more, and we remember Lilly Pulitzer for all she has contributed to making the world a happier, more colorful place.
Photos 1-4 courtesy of Lilly Pulitzer.