When she finally returned to Palm Beach, she started selling fruit from her husbands citrus groves, and then opened a juice stand on Worth Avenue with an acquaintance from New York, Laura Robbins, a former editor at Harpers Bazaar, partly to keep herself busy.
She told People magazine in 1982: I went crazy. I was a namby-pamby; people always made decisions for me. The doctor said I should find something to do.
According to the Vanity Fair profile, both women, while struggling with juice stains, struck on the idea of a patterned dress at the same time. They began selling the dresses at the juice stand, for $22.
The line wasnt very extensive, Pulitzer told the magazine. The bodies, one was sleeveless and one had a sleeve. I mean everybody, they had to have them. Whether they fit or not, who cared? Just get one, I want it, I have to wear it to dinner.
While Pulitzers first marriage did not last she divorced Peter Pulitzer, again shocking their friends, and in 1969 married Enrique Rousseau, who had worked for her first husband and then a hotel the business took off, eventually with sales of more than $15 million.
At first, her dresses were seen almost exclusively in Palm Beach circles, and then globally when her wealthy friends began appearing in the designs in magazines. Jacqueline Kennedy, a classmate from Miss Porters, wore a Pulitzer dress while on vacation:
It was made from kitchen curtain material, and people went crazy, Pulitzer said. They took off like Zingo.
Pulitzer continued designing until 1984, when ill-timed expansions, combined with changing tastes toward more-minimal designs, led the company to seek bankruptcy protection.
The label was revived in the 1990s by Sugartown Worldwide, which was acquired in 2010 by Oxford Industries.
Although Pulitzer occasionally consulted with the company in recent years, once she retired she went on with her life, quite privately, in Palm Beach. Her second husband died of cancer in 1993.
Details of her remaining survivors were not immediately available, but The Palm Beach Post said they include three children from her first marriage, Liza, Minnie and Peter.
Lilly the lady was so much more than Lilly the label, Steven Stolman, a designer who consulted on a retrospective of Pulitzers work in 2008 at Parsons the New School for Design, said Sunday.
Stolman recalled her disappointment when he was unable to obtain a specific print she wanted for the exhibition because the cost of obtaining it on the vintage market was beyond his budget.
A budget, she told him, how embarrassing.