Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Interview With Mary Lane...The Girl With All the Lilly!

Who has the most Lilly Pulitzer?  Her name is Mary Lane.  She's also known as Lilly's That Girl and also Lilly Ambassador on Instagram and Twitter.  Mary was a personal friend of the late Lilly Pulitzer and I am honored that she has graciously agreed to be interviewed here.  In today's post, Mary talks about her relationship with Lilly and some of the fabulous Lilly events she has hosted and attended.

This is a Mary standing next to her adorable Lilly Pulitzer golf cart.  Is the cart not the cutest thing ever?!

So let's get to know Mary...How and when did you meet Lilly Pulitzer?
I grew up in Central Florida as a tennis player.  Lilly had a tennis line back in the day as well as numerous stores and so I am sure that our paths crossed when I was a child.

Mary Lane with Lilly Pulitzer

In 2005, the Winter Park store opened.  This was the third corporate store to open after Ardmore and Key West.  Lilly had never been in a Lilly store since she closed her own stores back in the 1980s. James Bradbeer (Brad) drove Lilly to Winter Park to see the store.  I was invited to attend and have lunch with Lilly.  Lilly arrived at the store and was like a wide eyed child just enthralled to see it.  It was one of those moments that was priceless.  She was very friendly, asked lots of questions and was so busy taking everything in.  We were supposed to go to lunch but she did not want to leave the store so we had lunch brought in.  We became fast friends as she learned of my love of the brand both old and new.

Would you like to share with my readers anything special about your relationship with Lilly Pulitzer?
Lilly would always say, "You know where I live and my door is always open."  I would visit Lilly when I was in Palm Beach and her door was literally always open.  (Yes, her door did have a L on it) You just walked in and said, "Lilly" and she would say "I'm in here."  It did not matter if you showed up and there were friends visiting as everyone was always welcome.

Her home was called the "Jungle" as it stood out among all of the mansions in Palm Beach with neatly manicured lawns.  The Jungle had lots of lush tropical foliage in its natural state.  There were cats running about both inside and out.  There was a slat house out by the pool with a long wooden table and a shell chandelier swaying in the breeze.  It was perfect for dining al fresco.  A hammock was tucked away under the palm trees--enticing you to take an afternoon nap.  There were hippos and turtle figurines poolside and even a miniature Statue of Liberty because, well, she said it best, "too much is never enough."

Mary Lane at the Palm Beach home of Lilly Pulitzer

When I would visit Lilly I would bring her special cookies that she loved.  If there were other guests in the home, she would rush to put them away in the kitchen to save them all for herself.

I knew that our friendship had reached a special level when on one visit, I notice that the framed picture I gave her of the two of us was among the others of family and friends in the breakfast nook. Just knowing that warmed my heart.

I know that you hosted a celebration in Palm Beach for Lilly's 80th birthday.  Would you share that experience?
There was an exhibit of vintage Lilly at the Museum of Lifestyle and Fashion History in Palm Beach County and I had a dress in the exhibit.  (The museum is now closed)  As Lilly's 80th birthday approached, it seemed only fitting to have a party for her.  I was asked by Lori Durant, Director of the Museum, to chair the event which of course, I agreed to do.  It was for Lilly.  Lisa Stuart from Key West/Newport and Barbara Malone from Greenwich agreed to help and they were fabulous.  We wanted the event to be special and knew we had to reach out to Lilly lovers all over.

The table decor from Lilly Pulitzer's 80th Birthday party.

The entire event was a labor of love but it was a challenge as none of us were local to Palm Beach. There was so much planning for a soiree of 100 people: menu planning, floral arrangements, centerpieces, decor, invitations, swag bags and of course, a special cocktail with orange juice.  I still remember driving to set up the event with my car filled to the brim with oranges and Lilly bags.

While Lilly loved a good party, she was not too keen about this event.  She did not want the attention and did not know what all the fuss was about.  When Lilly arrived at the event, I think that even she was pleased with how we had transformed the venue and Lilly-fied everything.  I whispered in her ear, "thank you for being here" and she replied how happy she was to be there.  There were models in vintage Lilly fashions and you could just see her mind going back in time as they strolled through the venue looking as in vogue as they did so many years ago.  Guests traveled from all over the US to just share in this special moment, capture a picture with Lilly and create a memory for a lifetime.

Lilly Pulitzer and Mary Lane

When did you start collecting Lilly Pulitzer items?
Growing up in Florida, the Lilly Pulitzer line was quite popular.  I especially wore the shifts and tennis clothes as I was confined to a school uniform.  When the line was re-launched in the 1990s, I almost fainted when I walked into a store and there it was.  It was like being reunited with an old friend that I had lost touch with for so many years.  Back in the 1990s, the only places where you could buy Lilly were from boutiques.  I would frequent C Orrico in Palm Beach for my Lillys.  I have such great memories in C Orrico with the Orrico sisters and "Mama" sitting on the couch.  If you were lucky, Lilly might stop in on her way to lunch at Hamburger Heaven.  Since then, I latched onto so many pieces of Lilly and have never let them go which accounts for a lot of storage.  I have an emotional attachment to some of the items, remembering wearing them for special events.

Do you host events for Lilly Pulitzer?
There are several special events that I have been involved with for Lilly.  One of the first ones was when April, the first store manager of the Winter Park Lilly store, hosted a private shopping party just for me and my friends shortly after the store opened.  It was amazing!  I have the invitation framed and it is hanging in my closet.

Each spring, I also host Dinner on the Avenue in Winter Park for the Lilly girls. It is a huge outdoor event with almost 1,000 participants and even more spectators.  Tables are purchased and you have one hour to decorate.  It takes months of planning but we have managed to win the "Most Colorful" table award four times.  Every year, our table is Lilly themed with this year's focusing on a juice stand. Hands down, it was the most colorful and festive, complete with cocktails!

Y'all, I am in love with these adorable tablescapes!

I have attended the Beach Bash in Palm Beach for several years that Lilly Pulitzer sponsors.  This is such a fun event on the beach with everyone wearing Lilly or louder.  Lilly's grandson, Bobby Leidy has chaired the event for many years.

A few summers ago, I was invited to attend another beach bash that Lilly Pulitzer helped sponsor but this one was in the Hamptons.  It was a fabulous event with Ted Danson in attendance sharing his passion for saving the oceans.  There was live painting by the Lilly artists, music, dancing, great food and of course, cocktails.

Anyone that knows me knows that I have two passions: Lilly and the University of Florida.  This past February, these two came together as UF was selected as the college where Lilly would recruit.  As soon as this was announced, I went to work to assist in making this recruiting trip as successful as possible.  Being a Gator alum and Board Member for The Foundation, I had connections with key personnel at the University which was a huge asset.  Imagine making the arrangements to get the freshly painted All Nighter printed Lilly Jeep on the campus lawn at noon!  What fun!

Mary is the perfect Ambassador for Lilly Pulitzer!

While it is not an official event, each year, I am the counselor for "Camp Lilly."  This is an annual event that revolves around the Warehouse Sale.  A group of ladies from all over meet up for the Warehouse Sale.  Camp opens with dinner the night before the sale as we plot our shopping strategies.  Before the sale, we do a little warm-up shopping and then enjoy a casual picnic while waiting.  Once the doors open, we shop till we drop.  Julie, one of our campers from NYC, is always one of the last to check out with a massive amount of goods.  Afterwards we all enjoy a post shopping dinner and cocktails chatting about all of our great finds.  The next day, Heather, who is local to the area plans a fun excursion for us as we explore the area.  We have made some fabulous friends through Camp Lilly and keep in touch with one another throughout the year.

I hope y'all have enjoyed this peek inside the colorful world of Mary Lane.  Be sure to come back tomorrow for Part 2 of my interview.  Mary will share more about her love of Lilly Pulitzer...her Lilly possessions and her thoughts on the Lilly for Target collaboration.


Bellakarmen said...

Very interesting, I can't wait to read part 2. Love her photos too. I've really
enjoyed my small Lilly collection.

Kathie Truitt said...

I LOVE this and can't wait for Part 2. I recently became friends with Mary on facebook and I so appreciate her daily posts.

Kari said...

Wonderful interview, Miss Janice! Can't wait for Part. 2.

Unknown said... ! Looking forward to part two #lillylove

Miss Janice said...

Mary definitely has all the cute Lilly!

Miss Janice said...

Of course, I love her outfits of the day!

Miss Janice said...

Thanks to Mary!

Miss Janice said...

Thanks Liz!