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The Lilly cotton sundress began as two shapes--a shift with and without sleeves. Today, the brand’s under new ownership and still creating fresh prints.
Bright colors are a constant in Lilly fashions. The designer once told a retailer who asked for winter-toned clothing: “It’s always summer somewhere.”
According to a Pulitzer biography, the free-spirited designer liked to wear her breezy dresses with bare feet and no undergarments.
Lilly’s fashions often carried a built-in game: find the name "Lilly" within the fabric design. It might be an easy-to-locate signature or in a hidden swirl, as above.
The exhibit centerpiece, a sequined shift dress, is the only item on display worn by Lilly herself. She designed it to wear with a bright ostrich feather headdress to her son’s cowboys-and-indians-themed birthday party.
There’s a mood-enhancing fashion moment going on in Rancho Palos Verdes--it’s a sartorially focused museum show dedicated to clothing designer Lilly Pulitzer.
Pulitzer, who died at 81 this April, was the Palm Beach socialite who, with no formal training, sewed her first dress in 1960 so that she’d have something to wear that wouldn’t show orange juice stains. (Her husband, the later scandal-bedeviled Peter Pulitzer, had hundreds of acres of citrus groves, you see.) The dress was so snazzy, her society lady friends began asking for frocks of their own. Then, when her old chum Jackie Kennedy wore one in Life magazine...well, the craze was officially born.
Vintage fashion collector Keni Valenti’s clever and colorful display (Lilly-printed lanterns and beach balls!) covers years of Lilly fashion for women, men and children. You’ll see everything from bikinis to a sequin party dress, spanning the three decades of the brand’s heyday. (The Lilly Pulitzer Barbie is a real treat.)
Perhaps most fun, on Saturday, September 21, the museum is hosting a luncheon with a Lilly Pulitzer trunk show from BellaBeach in Manhattan Beach.
Palos Verdes Art Center, 5504 Crestridge Rd., Rancho Palos Verdes; 310-541-2479 or pvartcenter.org
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