I wanted to hate these, I really did. When I saw them in all of their pink, blue and golden splendor, first at Saks Fifth Avenue and then at Dillard’s I was filled with the overwhelming urge to scream , run and hide. You see, I grew up in a Lily Pulitzer world and my wardrobe was filled with Lily skirts and pink and green Papagallo pumps. My personal orb in the early 70’s was one in which certain well bred young ladies went to dancing school every Friday night and learned to curtsy, while harboring secret longings to run outside, smoke the cigarettes that we had stashed in our escorts pockets, kiss them recklessly while screaming bloody murder. I had to wear pearls and white gloves. My lipstick was pink, because nude would have been far too sexy. Instead of allowing it’s natural wave to be present, I blew dry my hair to stick straightness everyday. I was forced to wear Arpege .
Thank goodness for those cigarettes, a lovely guilty pleasure that I snuck every chance I got!
Lily Pulitzer clothing was one of the “privileged “ girls favorite affectations, the preppy uniform of choice. For a girl like me who read Vogue, studied “Cosmo” passionately and adored Haute Couture, LP clothes were the equivalent of a prison uniform. Quite frankly I was always lusting jealously after Catholic schoolgirl fashion as those short plaid skirts and knee socks always seemed thoroughly naughty. Fortunately for me by 1977, the saccharine sweetness of “Lily pink and green” had given away to the sexiness of the first Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dress that I ever owned which I wore to my graduation without a bra! I was working then and refused to let my mother buy my clothes for me anymore. I also stopped blowing my hair dry and spent a small fortune on Orlane makeup and Halston perfume! I was pearl scarred until at least 2 years ago, opting instead for chunky silver and turquoise.
My final act of defiance was the dress that I wore to the Assembly ball of 1978, a very sexy black Carmen Miranda number with an off the shoulder red chiffon blouson, Renee Russo hair and Mexican silver. I left my date, a very nice but totally boring boy for the opportunity to smoke hash in a conversion van with several of the wilder, cuter preppy boys . Needless to say, my date was very aggravated and I was quickly set free! That was the same poor boy that I scandalized by refusing to enter through the women’s doors of The Union Club that very same evening. Can you imagine? I hate to admit it but that entrance still exists today. Fortunately I think that Tom was secretly relieved! His father was the mayor of the very conservative town that I grew up in and I would definitely have created an image problem for that family!
Lily Pulitzer clothing never fully disappeared, but last year I was completely blown away when a Lily store opened in the fashion mall right around the corner from my apartment. I took a chance and walked in to find the same saccharine girls of my youth, but actually some very cute fashion. I will probably never be able to wear them again without coming down with a full blown case of the hives, but I’ve come to accept that she’s back in full force. However, I’m shocked to say that her perfume is actually fun to wear!
There are three Lily fragrances, “Beachy”, which comes in a lovely blue bottle, “Wink” which is of course all dressed in pink and “Squeeze” which is actually the one that I like the best and packaged in a bottle of sun drenched yellow. They are all emblazoned with little Lily ribbons, there are scented candles and hand creams to accent the very patrician image of the line. The bottles are designed to be reminiscent of sea glass. They’re really very pretty. Wait…who just said that?
I find myself amused to say that these scents are anything but patrician, they’re more than a little sexy and quite a lot of fun. “Wink” is very rosy with lots of musk and pear while “Beachy” is cheery and fresh, smelling of the Frangipani that I loved as a child and drenched with watermelon. ”Beachy” also has a lot of what I affectionately refer to as “That fake ocean smell”, but I don’t mind it , the dosage of vanilla and amber renders the marine accord inoffensive to me. “Squeeze” is my favorite and the one that I (GASP!) will probably return to buy. Lots of juicy pink grapefruit, lychee nut and a nice woody drydown laced with sexy adolescent musk make this one more than a little intriguing and nostalgic for me. I spent several spring vacations in Hawaii where the surfers were beautiful and the worlds finest marijuana was tucked amidst the pineapple plantations! Not that I ever paid too much attention to either!
Lily Pulitzer perfumes can be found in all of their bright glory at Saks Fifth Avenue.