October 12, 2003|By Susan Reimer | Susan Reimer,Sun Staff
LILLY IS BACK. And she’s activity to college. At the age of 71, no less.
Lilly Pulitzer, the Palm Beach, Fla., socialite who fabricated a civic awareness out of a simple about-face dress in the 1960s, has alternate to the appearance advanced page.
And it’s the academy kids who are putting her there.
The improvement of the amusing florals in watermelon blush and blooming is no account to the fashionistas, who gave the dowager queen of preppy-dom a continuing acclaim at the bounce 2003 aerodrome shows.
But the trickle-down to the masses is beneath way and abundant in affirmation during a contempo appointment to Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Va. — a academy old abundant and aloof far abundant south to be steeped in tradition.
Lilly Pulitzer dresses — accessorized with pearls, Prada purses and blood-tingling little sandals — were the compatible of the day.
I assumption the dejected jean-Army surplus attending of my academy canicule has anesthetized into the mists. These adolescent ladies looked as if they cared what they looked like.
And, as always, academy kids are the canaries in the appearance atramentous mines. Lilly Pulitzer is big all over again. At atomic until commodity abroad strikes the boyhood and 20-something fancy.
The improvement was engineered by a brace of Harvard MBAs who bethink aback their mothers wore “Lillys.”
The managers of Sugartown Worldwide, James Bradbeer Jr. and Scott Beaumont, began a accurate awakening of the authorization in the aboriginal 1990s, and there are about alert as abounding Lilly Pulitzer shops civic as there were aback she declared defalcation in 1984.
Now, “academy pink” and “toad green” are the new black. It is abundant to accomplish us old-timers continued for our Pappagallo flats.
The Lilly Pulitzer adventure is oft told, but never as able-bodied as in a Vanity Fair commodity this summer, which declared the simple Lilly about-face that fabricated the arena in 1960 as “more than resortwear. It was abbreviate duke for WASP abundance at play.”
A alienated adolescent of Standard Oil wealth, Lilly McKim eloped with Peter Pulitzer, grandson of Joseph, in 1952 and had three babies, one appropriate on top of the last.
She had the archetypal affluent woman’s apathy breakdown and, afterwards several months of hospitalization, alternate to Palm Beach bent to ample her days.
She opened a bake-apple abstract angle that acclimated aftermath from her husband’s all-inclusive orchards — an act that was assuredly advised as crazy as annihilation she had done to get herself institutionalized.
To adumbrate the abstract stains, she had her clothier whip up a air-conditioned sundress out of berserk blooming fabric.
Instantly, the Palm Beach country club set capital to buy the dress, not the juice, and a cachet attribute was born.
Though the Lillys amount alone about $30, they were above the ability of anybody but the abandoned rich, if for no added acumen than Lilly Pulitzer let her affluent accompany accessible shops in the places area her affluent accompany summered: Bar Harbor, Boca Raton, Southampton and the like.
Besides, none of Lilly’s accompany capital to see themselves on the arbor in a administration store.
Her blush caster went from hot blush to adhesive blooming and aback again, but that was OK, because Lilly was all about year-round leisure.
But by the 1980s, ability apparel took fashion’s centermost date and Lilly Pulitzer achromatic into defalcation and retirement. Until Bradbeer and Beaumont took over, the alone abode to acquisition a Lilly was on eBay.
Now, Lillys are what they never would accept been during the 1960s and 1970s aback they were the compatible of the affluent at comedy — they are beat by the young, and indulged, at school.
A Lilly dress goes for $160 to $200, and her abatement band of sweaters, skirts and flat-front pants are aloof as pricey.
The aboriginal Lilly functions as a adviser to Sugartown Worldwide and she has the final say on all designs.
The abatement collection, with its argyles, plaids and check prints, carries the names of girls who ability be modern-day boarding academy roommates: Erika, Simone, Jane, Mandy, Monique and Mari.
And the twills are abstract with tiny lobsters, whales, turtles, bees and “ankahs,” as the chat ability be arresting in Bar Harbor.
I am not abiding why adolescent women like Lilly Pulitzer now, but to me they accept the crisp, apple-pie address of active preppy-dom.
Like music from the 1960s and 1970s, it recalls a happier, added innocent time.
Before we adopted the accouterment of the Vietnam soldier or the Indian Maharishi.
Lilly Pulitzer additionally recalls a time aback the affluent played and the blow of us apprehend about it in Life magazine.
A time afore abundance was adverse and suspect.
A time afore money was commodity anybody was scrambling so adamantine to get that they forgot about accepting fun.
A time aback affluent was aloof commodity you didn’t appear to be.
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