Brand Spotlight: Lilly Pulitzer

Lilly Pulitzer Rousseau

Lilly Pulitzer Rousseau (1931-2013)

I love Lilly! Lilly Pulitzer enjoys a cult following and a level of loyalty that every brand strives for, but few achieve. The look of Lilly Pulitzer clothing is so distinctive and feminine- and the eponymous designer behind the label created a fairytale story to accompany her pieces. The line is so detail-oriented, each print is itself a unique work of art, with a name and a purpose. As much as any other brand, Lilly Pulitzer sells a specific lifestyle through its individual pieces. Just look at a few images from the Lilly catalog:

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The story of Lilly’s clothing, the girls who wear it, and what they want their lives to be, very much began with Lilly herself. Born to New York Socialites, Lilly’s great-grandfather was a founding partner in John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company. Her mother bred thoroughbred racehorses, and Lilly grew up attending the Chapin School, and Miss Porter’s School with a young Jacqueline Bouvier. When she married Herbert (Peter) Pulitzer Jr. as a very young woman, they escaped to the bright sub-tropical sunshine of Palm Beach. On the Lilly Pulitzer website, the brand tells the story of its own genesis:

Lilly Pulitzer: It all started with a juice standLilly certainly had connections, and once the great families of New York, and Jacqueline Kennedy herself, were spotted in Lilly’s clothing, her popularity exploded.

Lilly Pulitzer was an American princess with the world at her fingertips, and she escaped the confines of NYC to a permanent vacation. She had a philosophy of life that she shared with the world through her words and her vibrant creations, and which now seems to float around pinterest as quotes and images that are pinned and re-pinned in a constant cycle of inspiration and materialistic longing. Her clothes sell to girls that embrace the feminine, the classic, but also the fun.

The Lilly Girl

I often see such maxims as “Live a Lilly Life,” or “Life, Lilly, and the pursuit of happiness.” For many young girls, decking themselves out in Lilly is part of an attempt to live a certain kind of life a certain way, to be colorful and modern, but also willing to tip your hat to the past and act like a lady. Perhaps that’s why Lilly is always popular among Southern Sorority girls, who are not ashamed to take pride in their history and emerge as modern belles.

Personally, I can’t help but admire Lilly Pulitzer. She lived her life with pride and class, and she encouraged others to do the same. She created something entirely original and enduring: a beautiful clothing line that would continue to thrive once she was gone, and that strongly represented a way of life that she valued.

Here are few of my favorite pieces from the current line:

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Do you know the story behind your favorite brand?

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