Iconic Fashion Designer Lilly Pulitzer Dies At 81

Lilly Pulitzer dies
The woman who made the bright floral print a mainstream fashion must-have, Lilly Pulitzer, has passed away.

The Palm Beach socialite-turned-designer who made her mark on the fashion world in the 1960’s with her tropical print statements, died Sunday at 81.

Pulitzer’s iconic designs were so popular they transcended generations with the likes of Jacqueline Kennedy, who was Pulitzer’s former classmate at Miss Porter’s School in Farmington, Conn., donning her frocks to a baby Suri Cruise making the print young a fresh.

Pulitzer grew up wealthy, but became part of high society when she married newspaper scion Joseph Pulitzer’s grandson Peter in 1957, according to PEOPLE.

And her fashion empire took off on a whim when she started selling oranges and grapefruit from her husband's Florida groves from the back of her station wagon wearing the smocks made by her seamstress to cover up the juice stains. And since then she went from shapeless sheath dresses to sun dresses, silk sheaths, off-the-shoulder dresses, blouses, swimsuits, children’s clothing and menswer in jungle and floral prints in blues, pinks, light greens, yellow and orange.

On her official Facebook page Pulitzer's company posted the following statement:

“Early this morning, Lilly Pulitzer Rousseau passed away peacefully in Palm Beach, surrounded by family and loved ones. Lilly has been a true inspiration to us and we will miss her.

“In the days and weeks ahead we will celebrate all that Lilly meant to us. Lilly was a true original who has brought together generations through her bright and happy mark on the world.”

And she has left her mark with her famous enthusiasm for what made her a household name.

"I designed collections around whatever struck my fancy... fruits, vegetables, politics, or peacocks! I entered in with no business sense. It was a total change of life for me, but it made people happy," Pulitzer told the The Associated Press in March 2009.

"Style isn't just about what you wear, it's about how you live," Pulitzer said in 2004.

"We focus on the best, fun and happy things, and people want that. Being happy never goes out of style," she said.

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  • Kelly Lynch
    Kelly Lynch

    RIP Lilly Pullitzer. You dressed my mom's bridesmaids, and you made every summer a pleasure on the Cape.