Book Review of “Lilly: Palm Beach, Tropical Glamour, and the Birth of a Fashion Legend”

When Turner Publishing sent me a copy of Kathryn Livingston’s biography, I shimmied into my Lilly suit and happily dove in. Lilly, Palm Beach and unearthing my pink and green roots? I’m always up for that!

But I assumed (being an avid since-birth Lilly wearer and part time employee of Gainesville’s Lilly signature store) that I’d be reacquainting myself with the familiar tale of Palm Beach society sweetheart-turned-orange juicer-turned successful shift selling entrepreneur.

Not so!


Lilly: Palm Beach, Tropical Glamour, and the Birth of a Fashion Legend. By Kathryn Livingston.

As a former editor at Harper’s Bazaar, Town & Country, Time Inc., as well as many other publications, Livingston’s well-trained eye for seriously great fashion journalism steers the reader through the glamorous story surrounding the Floridian fashion icon, as well as the historical making, breaking and re-shaking of the brand.

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So it’s not just the story of the juice stand, mind you, which most Lilly lovers will know by heart – as it’s already printed on many of the namesake clothing tags – but the upbringing of the Jungle Queen. From Lilly’s prep school days alongside Jacqueline Onassis and Lilly’s legendary youthful romance with the handsome Peter Pulitzer, to the entrepreneurial spirit Pulitzer evoked in her that spawned a multimillion dollar clothing company, no facet of this stylish socialite’s fascinating life remains untouched.

The barefoot beauty who sashayed down Worth Avenue with a pet monkey on her arm and wonderful tricks up her multipatterned sleeve is a joy to read about, and learning more about the complexities of the social hierarchy Lilly was raised in helps the reader to understand why so many Palm Beachers couldn’t resist sporting her splashy, unfussy shifts decorated with punchy patterns.

If you’re an avid Lilly wearer or even just in search of the prime poolside read, check it out! Bonus points for matching the cover to your suit.

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