College of Design

Goldstein Museum of Design

Honoring the Career of Lilly Pulitzer

LillyPulitzertogether.jpg1. Dress with belt, 1965-1969, cotton, Gift of Sybil Roberts Seay 2001.014.008a-b
2. Caftan, 1970-1979, Gift of Felice Wender 1994.007.004
3. Dress, 1960-1969, cotton, Gift of Margot Siegel 1978.020.005

In honor of fashion maven Lilly Pulitzer, who passed away on April 7, 2013, the Goldstein is celebrating her iconic floral print designs. Pulitzer, born Lillian Lee McKim, lived a privileged life amongst American "royalty." Herself an heiress, she eloped and moved to Florida with Herbert Pulitzer, Jr. in 1952. In 1959, for something to do, she opened a juice stand in Palm Beach. Needing a dress to camouflage juice spills, she had one made in colorful citrus tones. The dresses met with such enthusiastic comments she soon began selling similar designs at the stand. Priced at just $22, these dresses were, according to the New York Times, "accessible to most, but really wearable only by the few who were so rich that they could afford to have bad taste."

While some "Lillys" certainly raise eyebrows (see the gregariously-patterned caftan above), most are charming little sundresses, ideally suited for hot and humid Florida summers. The playful use of floral patterns and innovative textiles paired with simple, clean silhouettes produced a modern look that feels just as fresh today as it did in the 1960s. In fact, the Goldstein's own Communications Assistant, Sharlene Balik, recently had the opportunity to wear a vintage Lilly Pulitzer dress. In keeping with the theme of the Goldstein's fall benefit party - Mad About Design - guests were encouraged to wear 60s-inspired fashions. Of this experience, Sharlene writes:

"Circa Vintage, a boutique that has clothing from the 1900s-1970s, offered Goldstein employees the opportunity to wear their clothing for the night. I went to Circa Vintage and found a Lilly Pulitzer dress that not only fit me perfectly but also the "Mad Men" theme! The dress was covered in a pink-and-green floral pattern and trimmed with lace around the collar. The dress fit me like a glove. I loved the feel and it worked well for all the movement I had to do while helping run the party. Looking back at images from that night I have to say that the dress looked even better on me than it felt. It hugged the right places while disguising the not-so-good places. It was a blast to see everyone in their 1960's attire and I enjoyed fitting right in wearing Lilly Pulitzer."

IMG_0632.JPGMallory Johnson and Eric Lagergren (Volunteers), and Sharlene Balik (GMD's Communication Assistant)

-- Natasha Thoreson and Sharlene Balik

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