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Iconic fashion designer Lilly Pulitzer Rousseau dies at 81

Posted by Sheffield on Apr 7th 2013

Early this morning, Lilly Pulitzer Rousseau passed away peacefully in Palm Beach, surrounded by family and loved ones.  She was 81.

Lilly Pulitzer in her first store, 1960s

Lilly in her store off Via Mizner, Worth Ave in Palm Beach, Florida

It all started with a juice stand in Palm Beach. Lilly, a young, sassy New York socialite had eloped with Peter Pulitzer, grandson of the Joseph Pulitzer and settled in Palm Beach to live the life of the rich and famous. Peter owned several Florida citrus groves, but Lilly needed a project of her own. So in the late 1950′s, with Peter’s produce, she opened a juice stand on Via Mizner, just off Worth Avenue in Palm Beach.
Lilly Pulitzer’s business was a hit, but squeezing oranges, lemons, limes, and pink grapefruit made a mess of her clothes. Realizing that she needed a juice stand uniform, Lilly asked her dressmaker to design a dress that would camouflage the stains. The result? A comfortable sleeveless shift made of bright, colorful printed cotton – pink, green, yellow and orange. The dress even had custom dressmaker details like lining and lace seam bindings. It was perfect for the job and became Lilly’s first Classic Shift.Although her customers liked Lilly’s juice, they loved her dress. When people began to ask if they could buy the dress, Lilly had a few more made up to sell in the stand. Soon Lilly was selling more dresses than juice, so she decided to stop squeezing and to focus on designing and selling her “Lillys.” Before long, Jackie Kennedy, an old school chum, began wearing Lillys and, as First Lady, was featured in Life Magazine wearing a Classic Shift. Then, of course, everyone wanted one and Lilly Pulitzer® became a fashion sensation. ”

Taken from the about Lilly section of Please visit the website for more info.

Lilly will certainly be missed, but her whimsy and spirit will live on in the many patterns and designs she left behind.  She was a remarkable woman whose contributions to the fashion world, and to our lives will continue forever.  Thank you Lilly Pulitzer Rousseau, and rest in peace.


Lilly Pulitzer’s florals

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