April 11, 2013
Are You A Lilly Girl? It’s Hard To
Resist The Sunny Lilly Lifestyle
By SAMANTHA CRITCHELL
AP Fashion Writer
You can spot a Lilly lady from what seems like a mile away.
She is wearing that rainbow of color, a cheeky print and, most likely, a smile on her face.
What Lilly Pulitzer did for fashion is more a story about what she did for women: She made them happy. She made them laugh. She gave them a mini vacation.
``Her clothes were transporting,'' said Adam Glassman, creative director of O, The Oprah Magazine. ``You automatically think of Palm Beach, or sunny California in a Slim Aarons photograph.''
Lilly Pulitzer died Sunday at her home in Palm Beach, Florida. She was 81. She had launched her business in the 1950s, by accident. She was a socialite with time to spare and a wealthy husband who owned citrus groves, so she started a juice stand on a busy shopping street. She needed dresses in tropical prints (no dowdy aprons for Lilly!) that would hide stains. The loose, sleeveless cotton shape that came to be known as the shift was perfect for the task and local climate.
``I designed collections around whatever struck my fancy ... fruits, vegetables, politics or peacocks! I entered in with no business sense. It was a total change of life for me, but it made people happy,'' Pulitzer told The Associated Press in 2009.
Her clothes, and later accessories and home goods, weren't dictated by runway trends or sweeping sociological statements: They were about lifestyle, and a lifestyle that real people had or, at least, wanted.
Lilly Pulitzer, pictured wearing colorful scarf
Few people wear their Lilly Pulitzer pieces on a dreary day, or to a routine dental appointment or a boring business meeting. You see them at baby showers, weddings, and garden and pool parties. You'll see them on little girls, their mothers and grandmothers, because no one corners the market when it comes to being cheerful.
Pulitzer and the company she sold her name to court women of different ages, body types and hometowns, Glassman noted, but what links them all together is a ``life's a party'' attitude.
There's a broader audience than one might think for pineapple-printed swimsuits and monkey-covered caftans. They're almost a given for a Southern belle or a Nantucket prepster, but even cosmopolitan city sophisticates can't wait to pull out their sunniest styles and head out to the Hamptons.
The brand was purposefully inclusive, said Janie Schoenborn, now the vice president of creative communications of Lilly Pulitzer's former company. ``If someone is wearing the same print, you high five them! I don't want to use the word `club,' though, because that seems exclusive. Anyone who is happy and wants to have a good time can come to our party.''
Schoenborn said Lilly Pulitzer occupies a unique spot in the fashion world. ``It's so not fashion-y, but it is fashion because it has such a strong point of view.''
``The look is colorful, it tends to be preppy, it's an iconic American look based on a lifestyle that's based around these prints,'' Glassman said.
Pulitzer also paved the way for today's popular lifestyle brands, including Tory Burch, Tibi and Milly, and even Ralph Lauren, Glassman added. It was a different business than the avant-garde catwalk designers showing in Europe during the `60s. It was about loyalty and longevity instead of drastic swings of the pendulum.
Then-first lady and fashion plate Jacqueline Kennedy, a former schoolmate of Pulitzer, wore one of the shifts in a Life magazine photo spread, confirming the look's legitimacy.
Pulitzer retired from the day-to-day business in 1993 after a rough patch in the `80s era of power dressing. But the company and its hallmark prints have returned to profitability. Sales of the brand were strong in the earnings period that ended Feb. 2, revenue increased 26 percent to $29.1 million.
Pulitzer's attitude is still pervasive at the company and in new products, said Schoenborn. ``If we've put a twinkle in your eye, then we have honored her.''
NYC Pay Phone Project
Features Neighborhoods’ Past
By KAREN MATTHEWS
New York (AP) Want to journey to a grittier time in New York City’s not-too-distant past, when the murder rate was sky-high, Times Square was a crossroads of crime and pornography, Starbucks had yet to arrive, and hardly anyone owned a cellphone?
A project designed to promote an art exhibit has turned 5,000 Manhattan pay phones into time machines that take callers back to 1993, a pivotal year in the city’s art, culture and politics.
Pick up a receiver on the rarely used phones that still dot the New York streetscape, punch 1-855-FOR-1993 and you will hear a notable resident recounting what life was like on that block 20 years ago.
``We liked, creatively, the idea of using a sort of slightly broken, disused system as the canvas of this project,’’ said Scott Chinn of Droga5, the ad agency behind the campaign for an exhibit titled ``NYC 1993: Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star.’’
An eclectic mix of artists, writers, food and fashion stars, and others has been recruited to reminisce, including chef Mario Batali, actor Chazz Palminteri, porn performer Robin Byrd and former one-handed Yankees pitcher Jim Abbott, who threw a no-hitter in 1993.
The narrators describe a New York that was dirtier, bloodier, raunchier and less gentrified than today, but also an easier place for a talented young person to gain a foothold.
Batali says in his sound bite that opening a restaurant was easier in 1993 when he debuted his first restaurant, Po.
``You didn’t have to have a rich daddy or an investor or put together a team or anything like that,’’ he says.
``It’s sad to watch the cost of business push the real individualist entrepreneurs out of the game.’’
Dial 1.855.FOR.1993 in NYC
Bike shop owner Dave Ortiz remembers when the city’s Meatpacking District, now home to trendy restaurants, nightclubs and pricey boutiques, was the wild, wild West.
``The rats were huge,’’ he says. ``They were as big as cats, so you had to walk in the middle of the street. It’s amazing what they turned it into. It’s cool but it’s lost its, like, authenticity.’’
Rudy Giuliani was elected New York City mayor in 1993 and promised to crack down on crime and make the city more livable. The number of homicides in the city—1,960 in 1993—had already dropped from a high of 2,245 in 1990 but has plunged steeply since then. (There were 414 in all of last year.)
The city’s AIDS crisis peaked in 1993 at 12,744 diagnoses. Terrorists staged the first attack on the World Trade Center. The look of the city has changed dramatically as national retailers have replaced independent merchants. New York City’s first Starbucks opened in 1994.
``There was a presence of a kind of downtown underground scene which you really don’t experience in New York anymore,’’ recalled Gary Carrion-Murayari, curator of the exhibit at the New Museum featuring 161 works, many intended to shock with sexual imagery.
Lutz Bacher’s ``My Penis,’’ for example, repeats a video snippet from the 1991 Florida rape trial of William Kennedy Smith, a nephew of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, in which Smith testifies about the organ in question.
In PepÛn Osorio’s ``The Scene of the Crime (Whose Crime?),’’ a blood-soaked sheet covers what appears to be a corpse. Four nude mannequins join hands and stare into space in Charles Ray’s ``Family Romance.’’ Political issues are tackled head-on in works like Sue Williams’ ``Are you Pro-Porn or Anti-Porn?’’
The exhibit and accompanying pay phone campaign run through May 26.
Pay phones in the Times Square area feature X-rated talk-show host Byrd describing the neighborhood before Disney musicals and theme-park stores made it safe for tourists.
``The area wasn’t really as dangerous as people thought it was in those days,’’ Byrd says. ``Because most of the bums that you thought were bums on the street were really undercover cops.’’
She adds: ``It was a great time. It’s too bad it’s changed because now it’s very pasteurized, homogenized, and it looks like Vegas.’’