Lilly Pulitzer, 1961 – Palm Beach, Florida: Getty Images
The story behind the fashion is the most interesting. And it seems there is always a story. This one is juicy – literally! I recently read that Lilly Pulitzer’s original designs were a means of covering up juice stains! Lilly Pulitzer was a New York socialite who eloped with Peter Pulitzer and moved to Palm Beach, Florida, full-time (which was unheard of in her social circles at the time). The story goes that Pulitzer opened a juice stand in Palm Beach – from the fruits of her husband’s citrus groves. But when stains from the fruit found their way on to her clothes she designed a cotton sleeveless shift dress splashed with bright colors – pinks, yellows, greens, and oranges – to disguise the messy stains! The original dresses in her collection were called “Lillys” and their simplicity and style grew so popular that they became the go-to uniform for resort-goers, socialites, and celebrities. One especially famous friend and former schoolmate, First Lady Jackie Kennedy, was often seen wearing Lilly Pulitzer’s colorful sheaths. Eventually, Lilly Pulitzer opened stores up and down the East Coast. And the rest … as they say … is history.
The original rollout of the Lilly Pulitzer Collection, circa 1960: Courtesy Lilly Pulitzer
New Yorkers lined up early at Bryant Park pop – Photo Credit: Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Target
… and I guess I was not alone. I had known about the Lillly Pulitzer/Target collaboration since January when I first wrote about it. I planned to be there last Sunday morning like many others. But when I got there at 9 the store was already removing the signage and as I walked the aisles and asked if there was anything left – the sales staff simply smiled. It had sold out within less than a half hour of the store’s opening at 8 (and my guess, probably more like 10 minutes). Online was no better; when I got home, everything (except a white umbrella stand) was sold out.
The woman at the cash register told me that she rung up someone who had bought a single beach towel (it was all that was left); the woman had said that she didn’t even need it but felt a pressure to buy it. And here’s the thing: what starts as an adrenaline rush to purchase something much-desired at a reasonable price can quickly turn into the crazy of the human experience, with people buying what they don’t need and wouldn’t use simply because it was all that was left. I will never forget seeing a woman squeezing into a child’s-size top during the Missoni collaboration, in hopes that it fit.
I have certainly benefited from these Target collaborations before and have purchased my fair share of treasures. But this time I am left with two questions: why did Lilly Pulitzer and Target not plan to have more merchandise for more customers, and … don’t they want us to keep coming back?
I admit it: I’m a Target-designer junkie. I have purchased some of my favorite fashionable treasures from these coveted designer collaborations (for the sheer joy of owning high style at great prices). Refinery29 has revealed that this spring Target will launch its latest collaboration with Lilly Pulitzer. This collab will be more like the highly successful partnership with Target and Missoni, including fashion, accessories, beauty, and home decor. In fact, Lilly Pulitzer’s collaboration with Target will include “250 pieces of apparel, accessories, beauty, and home decor, and range from $2 to $150 (with nearly 200 items under $30),” says Refinery29.
Perhaps best of all; for the first time, this collaboration will include plus sizes, which is long overdue and much-appreciated. When the collection arrives at Target stores on April 19th, I’m sure that Lilly Pulitzer, who passed away just a few years ago, will be smiling. The founder and fashion designer favored bright colors (especially pink!) and vibrant prints that screamed springtime. I’m also sure that I’ll be buying it!