Robert Vanderburgh McKim
(1900-1928)
Lillian Stokes Bostwick
(1906-1987)

Lillian Lee "Lilly" McKim
(1931-2013)

 

Family Links

Spouses/Children:
1. Herbert Peter Pulitzer

2. Enrique Rousseau

Lillian Lee "Lilly" McKim 1

  • Born: 10 Nov 1931, Roslyn, Nassau, New York, USA
  • Marriage (1): Herbert Peter Pulitzer in 1950
  • Marriage (2): Enrique Rousseau in Nov 1969 in Palm Beach, Palm Beach County, Florida, USA
  • Died: 7 Apr 2013, Florida, USA at age 81
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bullet  General Notes:

Lilly Pulitzer (b. 1931, Roslyn, New York) is a socialite and prominent fashion designer.

[edit] History

Lilly Pulitzer was christened Lillian Lee McKim to a socialite family in Roslyn, New York in 1931; Lilly Lee was her nickname among her friends. She was a "middle child" with an old sister, Mary Maude (called Memsey) and a younger sister Florence Fitch (Flossie).

She attended the Chapin School in New York City, along with the Bouvier sisters, Jacqueline and Lee. In 1949, she graduated from Miss Porter's School in Farmington, Connecticut. She attended the college-cum-finishing school Fitch in New York City, but left after one semester to work as a midwife's assistant in West Virginia and as a volunteer at the Veterans Hospital in The Bronx.

In 1950 she eloped with Peter Pulitzer, the grandson of publisher Joseph Pulitzer. Together, they settled in Palm Beach, Florida, where they enjoyed a bohemian lifestyle - at least by the standards of Palm Beach at the time (entertaining in the kitchen, walking barefoot down Worth Avenue). The attractive young couple made Palm Beach their year round home where they raised three children (Peter, Liza and Minnie). Peter owned several Florida citrus groves, and with produce from the groves Lilly opened a juice stand on Via Mizner, just off Worth Avenue in Palm Beach.

In the course of working at the juice stand, Lilly found that squeezing juice made a mess of her clothes. Seeking to camouflage the juice stains, Lilly asked her dressmaker to design a sleeveless shift dress made of bright, colorful printed cotton. Lilly loved the dress that was produced for her, and it would later become her "Classic Shift Dress".

Lilly quickly found that customers loved her dress, and so she had her dressmaker produce more in order to sell at her juice stand. Soon, however, she was selling more dresses than juice, so she decided to stop selling juice and instead focus on designing and selling what had become known as her "Lillys." Jackie Kennedy, then the First Lady, Lilly's friend and classmate from Chapin and Miss Porter's, was one of the first celebrities to sport Lilly's shift dress, and was featured in Life Magazine wearing one. Lilly's shift dresses suddenly became a fashion sensation.

In 1969, Lilly and Peter were divorced. She married Enrique Rousseau shortly thereafter. Although she legally changed her name to "Lillian McKim Rousseau", her clothing company continued to operate under the "Lilly Pulitzer" label with amazing success. Lilly continued to enjoy Palm Beach life, watching her children and grandchildren grow up. Enrique died from cancer in 1993 just as the fashion label was revived.

Lilly Pulitzer fabrics, design and fashion all started and gave her and idea at quite a young age. She was a teenager working in her dad's juice shop. She didn't like how all the white aprons would get all stained with all the juice, so she asked her dad if he could get new uniforms. He let her design them and then someone made them. She made bright beautiful colors on the clothing so that the juice stains didn't show. People liked the uniforms so much that they asked her father if they could possibly buy the uniforms. Soon then after- Lilly Pulitzer at the age of about 20- started to make designs of bright colorful fabric and sold them. And that's how Lilly Pulitzer got started.

[edit] Clothing

Throughout the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, Lilly's bright, colorful, well-made clothes were very popular and continued to be high-prized items. In 1980, Lisa Birnbach's bestselling tongue-in-cheek "guide" The Official Preppy Handbook featured a golf skirt and "Lilly beach dress" as must-have items for "preppy" women. Arguably, Lilly Pulitzer's clothing was at the height of its original popularity in the early 1980s. In 1984, however, Lilly retired so as to spend time with her grandchildren, and closed down her entire clothing operation.

Thus, it came as a surprise to the fashion world when in January 1993 Lilly Pulitzer allowed her line to be revived; Lilly is not involved in the day to day administration of the company, but she continues to serve in the role of creative consultant, approving new designs, fabrics, and collections. Good sales have inspired branching out into other product lines. The company also produces Lilly bedding, men's clothing, maternity clothes, jewelry, and accessories. Today, the company maintains 70 Lilly Pulitzer Signature Stores, several company-owned retail stores, and sells in major department stores such as Bloomingdale's and Nordstrom's.

Recently, she published a pair of lifestlye books with her friend, the author Jay Mulvaney, showcasing the "barefoot elegance" that characterizes her entertaining style, as well as two successful desk calendar books. Regarded, to her amusement, as "The Doyenne of Palm Beach," Lilly still lives in her "Jungle," enjoying life, her family and friends, and the pursuit of happiness.


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Lillian married Herbert Peter Pulitzer, son of Herbert "Tony" Pulitzer and Gladys Mildred Munn, in 1950. (Herbert Peter Pulitzer was born on 22 Mar 1930 in New York, USA.)


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Lillian next married Enrique Rousseau in Nov 1969 in Palm Beach, Palm Beach County, Florida, USA. (Enrique Rousseau was born on 10 Nov 1931 in San Luis, Cuba and died on 9 Mar 1993 in Palm Beach, Palm Beach County, Florida, USA.)


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Sources


1 lillypulitzer.com.


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