Courtesy of Lilly Pulitzer
“If you haven’t any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble,” said Lilly Pulitzer, legendary dress designer, rebellious socialite, entrepreneur, trendsetter, rule breaker and hostess extraordinaire.
The famous story begins, “It all started with a juice stand.  When 21 year old Lilly eloped with Peter Pulitzer, they escaped the hustle and bustle of New York City for the sun and sand of Palm Beach. In the shadow of her husband’s family’s citrus groves, Lilly opened a juice stand.  To disguise the juice stains on her clothing, she had a sleeveless dress made from colorfully-printed cotton.”
Lilly was a true pioneer.  She had a very privileged, yet restricted upbringing and wanted to experience life to the fullest. While her other friends were getting married and being introduced to society, Lilly worked for the Frontier Nurses Service in Kentucky, and as nurse’s aide at the Veterans’ Hospital in the Bronx. After she eloped as a very young age, she chose the unconventional path of becoming an entrepreneur which was highly uncommon for women during the 1950s. Lilly always lived by the adage to “Treat a duke like a dustman and and a dustman like a duke.”
Lovely Ladies in Lilly, circa 1964
Photo by Slim Aarons

The Lilly label happened somewhat accidentally and everyone fell in love with the shift dress that was comfortable, fun and flirty, just like Lilly herself.  When her classmate Jackie Kennedy appeared in Life magazine wearing one of Lilly’s creations, the brand become more popular than ever.

In the book Essentially Lilly, she is described as “loved by all, not for whom she is, but how she lives-with gusto, generosity and a never-ending sense of fun.”

In honor of this delightful spirit , the Mint Museum Auxiliary is continuing the Room to Bloom tradition by celebrating all things Palm Beach.  The festivities begin on Wednesday, April 25th and continue through Friday, May 18th. All proceeds from the fundraiser enable the Mint Museum to enhance its educational programs and acquire new works of art for the permanent collection.

One of the highlights of this year’s Room to Bloom Celebration is Evening Under the Palms. The committee has teamed up with Presenting Sponsors Belk,Inc and Lilly Pulitzer to create a magical Palm-Beach inspired event. See the invitation below for more details of the evening…

Please join us!
For reservations, email
Guests are encouraged to dress
Photo by Slim Aarons/ Getty Images
Photo by Slim Aarons/ Getty Images
Vogue Magazine Ad
circa 1971
 The evening includes cocktails, dinner, and dancing to the sounds of Hot Sauce
Painting by a Lilly artist
The Lilly Jeep
Lilly Pulitzer has donated their new
Mariposa Fabric for the Decor
Lilly artists will be on hand to create a painting
to be donated to the Mint Museum
Guests will receive a complimentary raffle ticket to win
this Lilly Pulitzer beach cruiser
House Beautiful

In quintessential Lilly style, the brand has now expanded to include everything from tabletop and stationary to designer fabrics, high end furniture and upholstery. It is easy to understand why the Lilly brand is so attractive.  She elevated the art of living well and made it accessible to everyone. The way Lilly described her clothes applies to all of her products; “These clothes make people happy. You feel happy wearing a bright color. It makes you smile.  And who does not want to smile a little bit more these days?”

Photo from Lee Jofa

For more information on Lilly fabrics featured by Lee Jofa, please see my friend and fellow designer Holly Phillips’ wonderful blog  Musings of a Design Aficionado (The English Room).

I would have loved to have lived in Palm Beach during the 1960s and attended some of Lilly’s legendary parties. They were known for their eclectic guests, lively music, fabulous food (prepared by the hostess herself!), and dancing everywhere-in the kitchen, by the pool, on the beach, on the cocktail table, wherever the party ended up.

I cannot wait to grab my vintage Lilly shift, put my husband in some patchwork Lilly pants and dance the night away at Evening Under the Palms all for a wonderful charity….I think Lilly would definitely approve!


  1. beth April 15, 2012

    Hey girl… see you at the event…. and let’s talk before NYC.. will be so much fun.

    beth-lucy and co.

  2. CATHERINE M. AUSTIN April 17, 2012

    So glad you are coming! It will be a great event. Cannot wait for NYC!

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