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The NY Times Looks at Lilly: “Hilarilously Preppy” & “Terrifying”

Hello-hello, and welcome to another sodden April day here at the Prepatorium, the downpour glorious in its own right for what we know will ultimately follow.

Regular readers know our fondness for the Critical Shopper columns in the Times, a fabulous feature critiquing retail establishments in the city. Today’s column is loads of fun, a look at the Lilly Pulitzer Mother Ship on Madison from writer Cintra Wilson.

Hiroko Masuike for The New York Times

We love the way Ms. Wilson described her own apparel as she entered the store:

“When I visited the newly refurbished two-story shop on Madison Avenue, I was, as usual, dressed entirely in black, which doesn’t make me self-conscious in most New York locales. But here, it was a bit like attending a children’s birthday party in a latex ski mask.”

Here is the portion referencing ‘hilariously preppy’:

I was charmed by a device invented for the vintage rack: pristine Pulitzers of bygone decades (most around $200) with printed tags reading “If This Dress Could Talk,” and mini-questionnaires below, on which previous owners have handwritten the who-what-where of a memorable moment in the garment’s past. These tend to be unintentionally yet hilariously preppy:

“Summer of ’69 … Sailing on the bay … Mitzi and Tripp … Sunny afternoon.”

“1975 … Martha’s Vineyard … My true love … Champagne and bike riding.”

It sounds like the previous owners of those frocks were in perfect settings for a little Lilly, oui?

Courtesy Lilly Pulitzer

Ms. Wilson appears a tad puzzled by the men’s section of the store:

“The second floor was also home to some absolutely terrifying sport jackets for men. I imagined it was what Anita Bryant’s linen closet would have looked like after Hurricane Andrew: violent mangos, pinks and aquamarines starched into jackets of such female bedspread intensity they might cause even Ricardo Montalbán to run toward the volcano.”

We’re not understanding; things like this are too bright?

Above left we show the Peter Blazer in Shorely Blue Bizzy Little Fizzy, and above right, that Blazer in Daiquiri Ten Ton Bouquet.

We have a little more from the Times story:

“How does one become as polished, poised, cheerful and sane as Jackie O, while living a life as bent, backward and whitewater-intense as anyone else’s?

The answer might lie in matching the print on your chemise to your daughter’s pedal pushers, your son’s swim trunks, your husband’s Bermuda shorts, your father’s bow tie and your paper cocktail napkins.”


Next, a quick glance at something that surprised us: the Marimekko fall collection.

The photos are via WWD, we simply had nary a clue the firm did ready to wear.  The fall collection was just shown at Danish Fashion Week, but Marimekko has been doing fashion styles for quite some time.  And here we thought it was all about pillows and aprons and cute jackets!

Below, a look from this spring’s collection in silk and linen, we’ll say it’s today’s Pretty in Pink.

Here is the Pixie Dress in a jaunty black, white and pink print, rather appealing IOHO.

We are huge fans of almost all everything the Finnish company creates, but primarily thought in terms of the brand’s iconic prints on household goods, like the Unikko Bed Linens or Unikko Tea Towels.

What a delightful discovery, that puts a smile on our face!


We close with Monday evening’s Dressed to Kilt event hosted by Sir Sean and Lady Connery.

Above we see actor Sam Waterston and NBC’s Al Roker modeling their kilts at the annual fundraiser.  Beneficiaries of this year’s event include the Wounded Warrior Project and Paralyzed Veterans of America.  Below we see Miss Scotland, Katharine Brown.

Andy Barr/The Scottish Sun

Also on hand, Kelly Bensimon (we believe she is a housewife on one of the many ‘Real Housewives…’ shows?) and singer Kellie Pickler.

Vets also walked the show, no small accomplishment for many of them.  Below, U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Dan Nevins, injured in Afghanistan.

Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Some may remember last year’s event featured Gossip Girl star Ed Westwick.

PHOTO: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

He was not a participant this year, but G2 designer Eric Daman took part in the festivities.

Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

With that we say G’bye until next time!


  • Marimekko Fall 2010: Johnny Kangasniemi/WWD
  • Dressed to Kilt: Lucas Jackson/Rueters
  • Dressed to Kilt: AP Photo/Peter Kramer


Filed under Preppy Fashion, Pretty in Pink

Tommy Hilfiger Week, Gossip Girl Windows

Hello-hello… we are enjoying the extended sunshine and warm weather here in the Great Midwest!

Are you on the mailing list for one of Macy’s new Tommy Hilfiger catalogs? In advance of ‘Tommy Week” at Macy’s two million catalogs are going in the mail, presumably those homes where a Macy’s or Bloomingdale’s credit card holder resides. (The same company owns both.) Perhaps they aren’t even going to Bloomies customers, as one won’t be able to purchase the goods shown in the catalog at Bloomies.

That is because pretty soon it is all about Macy’s for the Hilfiger lines. For those who may not remember the news, soon you will not be able to purchase Tommy Hilfiger men’s and women’s apparel at any outlet other than Macy’s, at least that is how TP understands the exclusivity arrangement between those two entities.

Above we show a courtesy photo of a newly remodeled Hilfiger Women’s department at Macy’s. Below left we show the Melinda cable-knit sweater and the Abigail pants; lower right is a Menswear look for which we don’t know the particulars. (Both are courtesy photos via WWD.)

At any rate, perfectly timed to run in tandem with Fashion Week, ‘Tommy Week” starts this Sunday (the 7th) at Macy’s; it is a very big deal for both Macy’s and Tommy Hilfiger. (Which is actually owned by Apax, a Dutch company.)

Some of the festivities include the launch of a Men’s fragrance on Sept. 7, appearances by Tommy Hilfiger himself and special lighting at the State Street Marshall Field’s, it is Field’s dammit store in Chicago and Herald Square Macy’s will project Tommy images on the buildings. Here is more perspective on the brand itself from the VP of Marketing, Avery Baker, via Women’s Wear Daily:

“There’s a new sensibility of what Tommy is all about — preppy, collegiate, lots of plaids, trenchcoats, as well as long dresses and elegant pieces,” Reardon said. “There is more risk-taking with some pieces. The collection has a little bit for everybody, though it’s a little more edgy.”

We are fond of the Fall campaign, shot at Lake Tahoe and using what appears to be a vintage Chris-Craft or Century wooden boat; regular readers have been forced to cope with TP’s continuing love for these incredible relics of another time in previous posts. Back to the Tommy situation, here is a little more from WWD:

“Along with the quality, Apax has been elevating the price points, cutting jobs, bringing some of the licenses in-house and opening large stores in prime locations….”

If you have been inside a Macy’s lately you may have seen one of the 300+ renovated Tommy departments, most of which have been upsized. It will be interesting to see if the exclusive deal for the Hilfiger label will help boost Macy’s sagging sales, especially as a very tough economic climate looms over the critical upcoming fall season, not to mention the holiday season. Here are a few looks from the Fall 2008 runway show:

A reminder, these are from last February’s runway show for the fashions going into stores right now; this year’s Hilfiger show comes during Fashion Week, starting this Friday. A few more, this time Hilfiger’s take on the LBD.

Who goes to this show? Well, last year’s attendees included Anna Wintour, Nicky Hilton, Julianne Moore, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and someone named Richie Rich. (Please accept our apologies, TP isn’t clear on that last individual, be they male, female, or anything else.)  

Apparently the Richie Rich person is seated next to Nicky Hilton, above left, whilst Virginia Smith accompanied Anna Wintour to the show last Febuary. Not that it matters, but The Princess is struggling with Ms. Wintour’s fur, as it seems more to be overtaking her face as opposed to framing it, which we presume was its original function in addition to looking smart and providing some warmth. Below, Mr. Hilfiger at the conclusion of the show followed by a photo of him with daughters Elizabeth and Ally Hilfiger.

The topic does remind us, we have never found the origins of this photo of Anna Wintour and Olympic Gold Medalist Michael Phelps, clearly not this past season, but when? Where? An expiring mind is dying to know!

The Princess is invoking the ‘better late than never’ clause of her blogging contract on this next item, the Gossip Girl windows at Henri Bendel story, even if we are almost a week behind the times with it. They were done by Eric Daman, costume designer for the hit show, and made their debut last week at an enormous party inside the store. We don’t know how many scenes have actually been shot at the store as we were a little tardy to the G2 party, so to speak, but evidently Bendel’s is seeing a little spike in business from the added exposure.

Above we see Taylor Momsen, Leighton Meester and Eric Daman at the Bendel’s party. BTW, ShopDiary has an an interesting story on some of the show’s fashions, chatting about pieces from Marc by Marc Jacobs, Ferragamo, and others. It is their image showing a few of the Blair dresses that you see immediately below.  

If you have made it all the way through your summer reading list, you may elect to add a few titles, certainly nothing requiring deep thought, just a couple of ideas providing escapist delights from the realities of summer’s end.

In advance of Fashion Week we though you might enjoy This Year’s Model from model Carol Alt, almost precisely as you would expect from the cover images and the author, although it is our understanding this is not a flattering portrayal of the industry.

'This Year's Model' by Carol Alt

'This Year's Model' by Carol Alt

The book was just released last week, and is only about $11 at Amazon, should that tickle your fancy. There is also Candace Bushnell’s “One Fifth Avenue,” now available for pre-orders almost everywhere, including Amazon; it is out September 22. (You know, that Candace Bushnell, Sex and the City Candace Bushnell!) There is also an online interview with Ms. Bushnell at Amazon, should that pique your antennae.

Also, the fabulous Fug Girls have a book out! Definitely not for the weak of heart or those easily offended by salty language, “Go Fug Yourself: the Fug Awards” is already out.

Happy Reading!

Photo Credits:

  • Our thanks to Racked for the Bendel’s window pix!
  • Tommy Hilfiger Runway Shots: Imaxtree.com
  • Tommy Hilfiger Guests: Getty Images


Filed under preppy, Preppy clothing & brands, Preppy Fashion