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Fashion designer Lily Pulitzer dies in Florida: company

By Ellen Wulfhorst

(Reuters) - Fashion designer Lilly Pulitzer died on Sunday in Palm Beach, Florida, at age 81, her company said.

Pulitzer was known for her bright, cheerful print shift dresses that were popular with socialites and evoked a lifestyle of affluence in Florida and New York's Hamptons resorts.

Her company, named Lilly Pulitzer, also made children's wear, men's wear and household goods, often based on the same prints and bright colors.

"Early this morning, Lilly Pulitzer Rousseau passed away peacefully in Palm Beach, surrounded by family and loved ones," her company said in a statement posted on Facebook. "Lilly has been a true inspiration to us and we will miss her.

"Lilly was a true original who has brought together generations through her bright and happy mark on the world," the statement said.

It did not disclose a cause of death.

Pulitzer's designs were born when she was running a juice stand in Florida and had a sleeveless dress made from colorful printed cotton to hide the juice stains, according to the company website.

She had eloped at age 21 with publishing heir Peter Pulitzer and moved to Palm Beach, "in the shadow of Peter's citrus groves," from New York City, it said. The couple later divorced.

The classic shift dress gained international attention when first lady Jacqueline Kennedy, a former classmate of Pulitzer's, was photographed wearing one of her dresses on vacation, it said.

Her company declared bankruptcy in 1984 but was relaunched in 1992.

She and Pulitzer had three children, according to People magazine. Her second husband was hotelier Enrique Rousseau who died in 1993, according to People.

(Editing by Sandra Maler)

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