Lilly Pulitzer, a socialite-turned-fashion designer whose clothes have been a staple of the society crowd since the 1960s, has died.
The 81-year-old designer “passed away peacefully in Palm Beach, surrounded by family and loved ones” on Sunday morning (April 7), a note on her eponymous company’s Facebook page says.
Pulitzer — whose full name was Lillian Bostwick Phipps Pulitzer Rousseau — married newspaper heir Peter Pulitzer in 1952 and moved with him to Palm Beach, Fla. The family owned orange groves, and on a lark Pulitzer decided to open a juice stand in 1959.
PICS: Notable deaths of 2013
She soon found her clothes covered in juice stains, and with the help of a seamstress designed some bright printed dresses to hide the splatters. Customers started asking where they could buy the clothes, and a fashion business was born. The line really took off when Pulitzer’s prep-school classmate, Jacqueline Kennedy, wore one of her dresses in a photo shoot for Life magazine in 1962.
Pulitzer’s clothes have been popular among the country-club set pretty much ever since. Her original company filed for bankruptcy in the 1980s, but another company purchased the label in the ’90s and started selling the clothes again. Pulitzer wasn’t as involved in the new business but still had a say in approving prints.