We recently noted the death of iconic American designer Lilly Pulitzer on our blog. She can be credited with popularizing the pink and green combination, and the New York Times called her “a major force in prep resort wear”. Others have called her a "designer by accident." Lilly was a socialite who was just as famous for her fashions as she was for entertaining. How did she get there?
Capitalizing on her bright idea, Lilly closed the stand and started her clothing business a year after she sold her first dress. When an old classmate of hers by the name of Jackie Kennedy was photographed by LIFE magazine wearing one of her dresses (or the “Lillies”) her company took off. Soon she was also designing clothing for men and children and dressing the entire horsey set for their warm weather vacations.
Eventually Lilly employed her own design studio to produce her signature fabrics. They were literally signature designs, as she would creatively hide her name among the motifs. Most of her textiles were produced by Key West Hand Print Fabrics. The three artists mainly responsible for the Lilly Pulitzer look are Susie Zuzek dePoo, her daughter Martha, and Leigh Martin Hooten. Susie and Leigh were trained textile designers. “We focus on the best, fun and happy things, and people want that. Being happy never goes out of style,” Lilly said.
Lilly Pulitzer fashions are now available through specialty shops, select department stores and through their website. The new products retain all the fun, whimsy and sunny disposition of the original designs, because as Lilly famously said, “It’s always summer somewhere!”
What’s your favorite Lilly Pulitzer print? Go to our Google group to share!
Lillian McKim was born in New York to a wealthy family in 1931. In 1952, she eloped with Herbert “Peter” Pulitzer of the Pulitzer Prize family. They moved to Palm Beach, Florida where she embraced the tropical lifestyle, typically spurning shoes and underwear.
But even carefree, wealthy socialites among waving palms can suffer from depression. Lilly ended up undergoing inpatient treatment while in her twenties. When she emerged in 1959, she was looking for a new hobby and decided to open a juice stand in Palm Beach using the fruits of her husband’s citrus groves.
It turned out to be a messy business and Lilly's clothes were often stained with juice. She recruited her friend, Laura Robbins (a former editor at Harper’s Bazaar), to help design a simple shift dress and, using bold, tropical prints, Lilly fashioned a wardrobe that effectively hid the stains. Her dresses ended up drawing more interest from her customers than her juices!
When the 1980s arrived, interest in her kitschy designs waned so Lilly filed for bankruptcy and retired. Then in 1993, her brand was sold and revived to introduce her bright, optimistic fashions to the children and grandchildren of her original customers. The tropical preppy wardrobe was back. Lilly returned to work as a consultant for the new company which has thrived ever since.
In honor of Spring, we thought we'd take a look at the colors of the season. Pantone’s Spring 2013 palette is called “Balancing Act.” In it, “designers overwhelmingly address consumers’ desire for self-expression, balance and the need to re-energize.”
You can download Pantone’s Spring 2013 report for free. In this report you will find numerous designers describing how they interpreted the colors you see above for Spring. Not only are their interpretations enlightening, but the illustrations showing their designs are fabulous!
The designers in the report include Tracy Reese, Peter Som, Herve Leger, Rachel Roy, Ella Moss, Charlotte Ronson, Tadashi Shoji, Pamella Roland, Carmen Marc Valvo, David Meister, BCBG, Nanette Lepore, Nicole Miller, Cynthia Steffe, Barbara Tfank, Lela Rose, Bibhu Mohapatra, Sachin + Babi, Tommy Hilfiger, NAHM, Karen Walker, TiA CiBANI, Marimekko, Wes Gordon, Cushnie et Ochs, Custo Barcelona, Saunder, and Elie Tahari.
This documentary is available on iTunes and DVD.
Louis Vuitton has just released a new collection inspired by the work of Yayoi Kusama. If you are not familiar with the work of Kusama, she is well known for her use of dense patterns of polka dots. She is one of Japan’s most prominent contemporary artists.
A retrospective of her art opens on July 12 at the Whitney Museum in New York. The exhibit is supported by Louis Vuitton.
And finally, if you are not in a position to buy Louis Vuitton goods or to fly to NYC for the exhibit, you can grab yourself a little dot fun with the new free iphone app that enables users to see the world through the eyes of Kusama (it turns images into dots!!):
Photo courtesy of www.bioalloy.org.
We know you were impressed by Anke Domaske’s Qmilch, a fabric made from spoiled milk protein. Well, hold on to your glasses wine and beer lovers: Researchers at the University of Western Australia have devised a way to turn your favorite fermented beverage into clothing. The cellulose fabric, dubbed Micro’be’, isn’t quite as advanced as Qmilch (it looks a bit like raw meat, lacks flexibility, and smells just like the alcoholic beverage it orginated from) but the material's creators are excited about its potential. Click here to read more about Micro’be’.
Hey all you Surface Pattern Designers! Look at these unlikely places for pattern.
Interested in fashion? Then don’t miss The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk at the de Young in San Francisco. The exhibit runs through August 19, 2012 and promises to be as exciting as Gaultier’s fashion, showcasing his often provocative take on design. This multimedia exhibit showcases designs created from the 1970s to 2010, through sketches, photographs, and video clips. There are also 30 animated mannequins who talk and sing!