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Flamboyant Designer Lilly Pulitzer Dies At 81

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Our next subject also owed her start in business to some sweet stuff that grows from trees. Flamboyant designer Lilly Pulitzer died over the weekend. She was 81 years old. So in her honor today, our last word in business is Lilly.

She married into the famous Pulitzer media family, but her own fame came from her line of screaming pink, lime and fluorescent yellow shift dresses. Pulitzer got her start behind a fruit juice stand in Palm Beach, Fla., where her husband owned orange groves. After a nervous breakdown in the 1950s, Pulitzer's doctor advised her to find something to do, and so she set up her stand. But she needed clothing that wouldn't show juice stains.

She asked a dressmaker to turn some colorful, fruit-patterned fabric into a sleeveless dress and soon, her customers were clamoring more for her dresses than her drinks.The Lilly line has weathered changing tastes and fashions. It's now owned by an outside group. But a new generation is adopting the loud, zany fabrics in everything from shorts to skirts.

Lilly Pulitzer told "Vanity Fair" magazine a few years ago: There's no explaining the fun I had running the business.

And that wraps up the business news on MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm David Greene.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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