It's Always Summer Somewhere. Lilly. Palm Beach, Tropical Glamour and the Birth of a Fashion Legend by Kathryn Livingston
Lilly Pulitzer should have had the world at her feet- she had a wonderful husband who was also handsome and wealthy and much-loved children - however, she found herself suffering a nervous breakdown in a New York institution. She married young and eloped, thinking that it would 'be just another adventure,' however, she started to find marriage difficult and the heat and humidity of Florida wore her down. After a few months there, the psychiatrist told her that there was nothing wrong with her and she just needed to find something to do!
This was hard because she dropped out of college and she had an extremely privileged background although she had worked as a volunteer for the Frontier Nursing Service in Kentucky which was very tough. Lilly had to travel long distances in mountainous terrain riding a mule or a horse and assist at home births in this wild hinterland.
Her husband grew orange trees in Florida and Lilly came up with the idea of selling orange juice from a stall in a swish street in Palm Beach. She also delivered oranges to back doors of houses which she was accustomed to entering from the front! Beautiful and dark-haired, Lilly looked like a barefoot Gauguin princess as she made the orange juice. She was friendly and approachable so all the wealthy shoppers stopped to chat and buy some juice.
It was uncomfortable selling orange juice in the heat and Lilly was inclined to spill it so she designed a brightly coloured printed dress that wouldn't show the stains! So many women asked her about the dress that she started selling them and the 'Lilly' was born. Soon, Lilly was able to get her sister, who had more experience in fashion, to help her and she was also assisted by famous artists. She opened her own boutique and when her old friend Jackie Kennedy started wearing Lilly dresses, the business really took off. The dresses even sold in the winters. As Lilly said: "It's always summer somewhere!"
Lilly Pulitzer's story reads like a fairy-tale, although she certainly had her share of problems. I really enjoyed this book with its fascinating history of Palm Beach and Lilly Pulitzer's success, however, I did feel that the author was a bit too impressed with incredible wealth and glamorous parties at times.
I certainly want a Lilly dress myself now, but it will have to be a maxi, unfortunately!
I received this free ebook from Edelweiss in return for an honest review.