Recently deceased Pulitzer, Thatcher leave mark on fashion, politics

[pullquote1 quotes=”true” align=”center”]Tropical fashion designer, former Prime Minister pass away within day of each other[/pullquote1]

BY ELIZABETH FURINO ’16
Staff Writer

The week of April 7, which invited sunshine and spring dresses to F&M’s campus, saw the passing of two women, both of whom had varying degrees of effect on the fashion world. Within two days, both Lilly Pulitzer, famed fashion designer and socialite, and Margaret Thatcher, former Prime Minister of United Kingdom, AKA the Iron Lady, passed away.

Around the country, moms, preps, and fashion historians mourn the death of Pulitzer, who passed away April 7. While many people can identify a classically colorful, bright Lilly Pulitzer dress or other garment, few know the rather adorable story behind the famed prints. After marrying her first husband Herbert Pulitzer (yes; as in the Pulitzer Prize, Pulitzer Publishing family), the two moved to sunny Palm Beach, FL.

Here, Herbert owned orange groves, which allowed Lilly to open a juice stand. (Not so adorable is the fact that Lilly started the stand in order to keep herself busy in an attempt to avoid another nervous breakdown.)

Frustrated with the amount of juice that splattered on her clothes during the day, Lilly began creating comfortable, sleeveless shift dresses in bright colors and patterns. By doing so, she avoided stains and stayed relatively cool in the Florida heat. Wildly popular at the stand, Lilly started to sell her dresses along with the juice. Eventually, though, the dresses proved much more successful than the juice, so she closed up shop and took to designing and selling her dresses full-time.

As with any death, reporters and fashion forecasters wonder if her death will have an effect on the business she originally created, Lilly Pulitzer, Inc. This remains doubtful, however, because the company has technically not been hers since 1984, when she shut it down to avoid bankruptcy. Since 1993, Lilly was the creative consultant to Sugartown Worldwide, while keeping her name attached to the brand. Taken over by Oxford Industries in 2010, the brand will probably not change much. In fact, it’s quite likely that sales will increase in the wake of her death, as buyers will justify purchasing clothes as paying their respects to her life and contributions to the industry.

Just a day after Lilly’s death, the entire world mourned the passing of Margaret Thatcher, former Prime Minister of UK. Although Thatcher was more known for her 25-year standing as the only female Prime Minister, she had some stellar fashion moments. Stellar being a relative term — we are talking about tweed suits, after all. That being said, choosing to wear suits, she had a few home runs, or goals, rather. A yellow jacket with black accents, paired with a pleated, full skirt in the same style, was among them.

The Iron Lady always kept it classy in tea-length skirts or dresses. The skirts were usually paired with a blazer and blouse of some sort, while the dresses were typically wrap-style. Other staples in her expansive wardrobe include a seemingly endless supply of both floppy and more fitted hats. Equally floppy was her collection of scarves, usually in a light fabric like chiffon or silk and often tied in a loose bow around her neck. Finally, she could frequently be seen with a brooch of some sort pinned to her lapel.

Although Thatcher won’t be leaving a fashion legacy behind, her other contributions to the UK — and enabling Meryl Streep to win another Academy Award for The Iron Lady — more than makes up for it.

Passing at the age of 81, Lilly certainly left her stamp of bright flowers and paisley print on the world, especially the fashion world. At 87, Thatcher left a slightly less tropical stamp, but a very important one on the UK and the world.

Questions? Email Elizabeth at efurino@fandm.edu.

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