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Lilly Pulitzer – How the Florida Keys Inspired an Icon

Posted on: May 24th, 2016 by Leah No Comments

The term “resort wear” conjures up images of socialites lounging poolside at country clubs in Palm Beach and the Hamptons.  But seldom do we think of this term as describing our style in our island community in the Florida Keys.  Shorts, maxi dresses, caftans and sandals in lightweight, breathable fabrics are the definition of resort wear.  They can be found in an array of hues including brights, whites, prints and nautical and are staples in our Florida Keys wardrobe.  Lucky for us, we live in a local where we can wear bright colors and prints year-round as opposed to the drab grays and blacks of city living in the north during cold winter months.

The Birth of Resort Wear

In the late 1950s Lilly Pulitzer and her husband operated a juice stand in Palm Beach.  She received so many compliments on her handmade dresses that she started selling them.  At this time most women and men were still wearing pants and northern attire while on vacation in Florida.  Lilly Pulitzer pioneered the style by designing clothing that was both cool for the warm Florida weather and flattering.

KWHP Watercolor 5

An original watercolor design for Lilly Pulitzer done by Key West Hand Print Fabrics.  Note ‘Lilly’ in the pattern.  ©dePoo Family

Iconic Prints

In the 1960s, Lilly Pulitzer learned about the fabrics designed by the Key West Hand Print Fabrics Company.  A local artist, (Suzie) Agnez Zuzek dePoo, was the lead designer and spent 30 years designing fabrics for Lilly Pulitzer.  Lilly Pulitzer came to purchase 98% of her fabrics, or 4,000 yards a week from the Key West Hand Print Fabrics Company and then the garments were created in a factory in Miami. All Lilly Pulitzer prints have a secret.  Each design has the world “Lilly” hidden within the pattern.  This signature touch is the hallmark of an authentic Lilly Pulitzer garment.

Learn More About Lilly Pulitzer

On Thursday, May 26 5:30 – 8:30 p.m., the Flagler’s Folly Society presents Lilly Pulitzer – How the Florida Keys Inspired an Icon. This cocktail party will include an evening sipping in the company of friends, shopping at the Lilly Pulitzer pop-up shop and learning more about Lilly Pulitzer and Key West Hand Print Fabrics during a special presentation by Cory Convertito, curator of the Key West Art & Historical Society.  Tickets are $50 and will raise money for the permanent Upper Keys Communities exhibit at the Florida Keys History & Discovery Center.  You can purchase your tickets at KeysDiscovery.com.