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Lilly: Palm Beach, Tropical Glamour, and the Birth of a Fashion Legend Hardcover – November 1, 2012


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Lilly: Palm Beach, Tropical Glamour, and the Birth of a Fashion Legend + Kate Spade New York: Things We Love: Twenty Years of Inspiration, Intriguing Bits and Other Curiosities
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (November 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 047050160X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470501603
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #82,150 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

* You see them every summer: floridly bright and dazzlingly patterned shifts worn by country club ladies and girls of all ages. Back in style again (though in some quarters they never went out), Lilly Pulitzer dresses rank among the icons of 20th century American fashion. Their eponymous creator was a native of the upper crust — born Lillian Lee McKim, she went to Chapin as a classmate of Jacqueline Bouvier's — and her marriage to Peter Pulitzer was vaguely scandalous because of his Jewish roots and the young couple’s plan to live in Florida (Lilly was ""Palm Beach royalty"" via her stepfather, Ogden Phipps) year-round. Her dress business began in a juice stand (the Pulitzers owned groves); before long, the Lilly, an easy-to-wear shift in colorful cotton, became more popular than the juices.
Livingston, a journalist covering the resort beat, tells Pulitzer's story with admiration and a keen eye for luxury. Relentlessly peppy and fueled by gossip, the book can read like a particularly long society-page dispatch — or a publicity notice for the clothing brand — but at times it's great fun, as when Pulitzer responds to a retailer asking her to make fall or winter clothing: ""Oh, but you don't understand, it’s always summer somewhere."" (Boston Globe, December 2012)

Some women brood on their dullness like Chekhov characters staring out windows. What's interesting about Lilly Pulitzer is that she confesses it cheerfully and by so doing persuades us that it might not be true. The case for it can be made, however—she was never known for working the fashion shows with a chrome-steel attitude or swanning around with Paris couturiers. Winter and summer, she liked being in Palm Beach, Fla., where her clothing was a sort of folk art of the very rich, summer clothes for a world where, as she said, ""it's always summer somewhere.""
Now, at 80, a Palm Beach homebody, she is the subject of a short, airy biography by Kathryn Livingston, ""Lilly: Palm Beach, Tropical Glamour, and the Birth of a Fashion Legend.""
To my surprise, I learned that I kind of like her. Surprise because I grew up with my nose pressed to the window of Lilly Land, but I was looking out, not in, seeking freedom from Connecticut cocktail hours, rich people complaining that they were broke (""totally stoners""), mixed doubles in tennis, and porch parties where women wore hair pulled back as tight as the silk on Christmas-tree balls. Once in a while a man would wear a necktie as a belt, a Brooks Brothers buccaneer. (Wall Street Journal, December 2012)

From the Inside Flap

Born into a legendary family surrounded by wealth and privilege, Lilly Pulitzer is an iconoclast who has become a fashion icon. Lilly's trademark colorful shift dresses defined high-society casual chic in the 1960s, and her brand continues to delight and enchant a whole new generation of women today. With Lilly, set against the glittering background of Palm Beach, Kathryn Livingston presents the first biography of this fascinating, complex, remarkable woman.

Always one to opt for the unconventional, Lilly dropped out of college after one semester to become a nurse's aide in Appalachia, then eloped with publishing heir Peter Pulitzer at age twenty and moved full-time to Palm Beach, one of America's most notorious enclaves for the very rich. Peter worked in the orange-growing industry, and Lilly began her career by setting up a fruit juice stand on the famously upscale Worth Avenue. Lilly started designing and wearing simple, colorful dresses to provide comfort while she worked under the hot Florida sun. The exuberant patterns of her shifts, known as Lillys, soon caught the attention of her wealthy patrons. Lillys became the Palm Beach snob uniform and were quickly adopted by her neighbors and socialite customers from all over who wintered in Palm Beach. After Lilly's former schoolmate First Lady Jackie Kennedy was photographed with her family wearing a Lilly in Hyannis Port, seemingly every woman in America wanted to have one.

Lilly Pulitzer is an intensely private person, and her often tumultuous personal life has been touched by more than its share of tragedy and scandal. Lilly examines in depth the many struggles Lilly has endured in her life. Lilly and Peter seemed to be the picture of domestic bliss but Peter's infidelities (revealed during the divorce from his second wife, Roxanne) and constant traveling tore Lilly and Peter apart. After her divorce, Lilly found new love with her second husband, Enrique, a patrician Cuban-American, and they enjoyed several years of happiness, but he died too soon.

Lilly is the story of a devoted mother who worked hard and created a thriving business at a time when most mothers, especially wealthy ones, didn't work. It is a story about exceptional luxury, love, betrayal, despair, and triumph. Featuring rare photos that reveal the guarded world of Lilly Pulitzer and her family and friends, Lilly combines a richly textured true tale of fashion magic and business success with a riveting tour of the lifestyles of the richest and most celebrated people in the spectacular resort known as Palm Beach. Lilly is a uniquely American story.


More About the Author

KATHRYN LIVINGSTON has had a long career in magazines covering fashion and fashionable people. First as a staff writer at Harper's Bazaar, then as executive editor of Town & Country. She pioneered innovative ways of profiling the high achieving, the influential and the privileged in places like New York, Houston, Toronto, Rio de Janiero, Mexico City, Paris and Milan, as well as in such playgrounds for the powerful as Aspen, Santa Barbara, and Palm Beach. She interviewed many of the world's most celebrated talents in the fields of entertainment, sport, business, science, medicine, art and architecture. Her editorial work and writing across various media continued at Time Warner. She was the creative director of acclaimed upscale publications for Tiffany & Co. and Neiman Marcus. She has written articles for Gourmet, Conde Nast Traveler, House & Garden, Travel & Leisure and is the author or co-author of six books, including High Rise Low Down and In the Spirit of Aspen. She lives in New York City.

Customer Reviews

I really wanted to like it more than the two stars I put forth which I consider generous.
knitter
If I could request a refund I would because at only 30% of the book read I really couldn't summarize what I read if I had to.
Rosebud
I would have enjoyed reading the book more, if the author had not wandered off the subject so much.
Ulla

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Ulla on April 16, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
In the chapters of the book you learned little about Lilly and much about the wealthy. I would have enjoyed reading the book more, if the author had not wandered off the subject so much. Lilly deserved it.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Summer2000 on December 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Fun book if you winter in Palm Beach ...... Great recall of the making of Lilly line. Interesting story for a clothes junkie to read ... easy reading
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By divinereader on December 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This is an ultimately very heartening tale of a woman who faced every manner of personal challenge to persevere and carve out a voice for herself in the world of American fashion. She was able to step out from under the shadow of many formidabe, illustrious families in her orbit, such as the Phippses, the Guests, Bostwicks, and McKims and not least of all the Pulizers; i.e. Standard Oil, U.S. Steel, media empires, etc., and a legendary architecture firm to boot. These clans were no match for her own burgeoning creative fires. This is a portrait of a woman whose constant reinventions and verve can easily be read as an instructive tale for today. Lilly was true to herself, her world, and yet also managed to make a few million dollars along the way in bringing to life her vision.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Kathy S. McBride on February 28, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Love, love, love this book. Not only does it look great on a shelf or table, but it is a great read.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Gwen on April 29, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Lilly Pulitzer had an interesting life. However, I learned more about her from Google than from this biography. It bounced back and forth, with innumerable side tracks about the pedigrees of other people. Livingston made several references to her fun loving life style and escapades at boarding school. But there was not a single anecdote to back up the statements. I didn't feel like I knew her any better than a list of facts about her life. It was one long name dropping bore.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By MARGARET A. MURRAY on January 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Interesting insights to Palm Beach life, celebrities and fashion during the golden years between the fifties to the seventies. This history was provided with a loving hand, a way of looking at fashion and social life as integral to many facets of society - movies, song, style and the people who care about living nicely. Kathryn Livingston shares an admiration of Lilly and her influence with an objectivity absent the usual sarcasm of famous or wealthy individuals. "Lilly" is fun!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Betsy B. Avallone on January 2, 2013
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I enjoyed this book. Having gone to school for a short time with her daughter Minnie. I would recommend this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By stephen Holmes on June 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Although the book wasn't particularly well written, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.... stepping into the life of the rich and famous is always fun.
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