Last Updated on September 16, 2022
If you love the colorful patterns and loud colors of Lilly Pulitzer handbags and office supplies, you’ve probably wondered how to draw them. The answer is actually quite simple, but it will require some practice! These bright prints have been a staple of Lilly Pulitzer fashion for decades. They’ve even influenced handbags and office supplies. Learn how to draw Lilly Pulitzer prints and create your own!
Zuzek’s influence on American fashion
In the Cooper Hewitt Museum in New York, Zuzek’s designs from the 1970s are presented as silk-screens and watercolor drawings. The exhibition’s colors are bright and summery, recalling the sun, surf, and resort life. Zuzek’s signature light touch is employed in her patterns and omnidirectional motifs. Her use of fabric area for garment construction maximizes the effect of her designs, while the artisanal printing process is showcased through the deep cuts and embroidery in Zuzek’s dresses.
Her designs for Lilly Pulitzer’s iconic preppy sheath dresses evoke her work with Suzie Zuzek. Zuzek created over 1,500 prints for the Key West Hand Print Fabrics company, which became a partnership between Zuzek and Pulitzer. The vibrant prints from Zuzek’s artwork are now a part of Pulitzer’s resort wear collections. This collaboration between Zuzek and Pulitzer helped her influence American fashion.
Suzie Zuzek was born and raised on a dairy farm in Buffalo, New York. At age twelve, she enlisted in the Women’s Army Auxiliary and went to Brooklyn to study textile design. During World War II, she received GI Bill tuition benefits to attend college. She subsequently earned a degree in textile design at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. Her designs are widely collected today.
Zuzek’s work evolved to become more eclectic over the years. She used found materials and created sculptures from detritus. Her designs drew inspiration from local flora and fauna. The artist’s work is influenced by nature, which she loved. It was this connection to nature that ultimately inspired her to create her designs. The work of Zuzek’s art carries many layers of meaning.
In addition to the work of Zuzek, the exhibition will feature her own watercolor drawings. This first museum exhibition explores the artist’s role in the evolution of Pulitzer’s style. More than thirty watercolor drawings, as well as screen-printed textiles, are displayed. Some of these works were custom-made for the Pulitzer label. However, Zuzek’s influence on American fashion is so far-reaching that her art has influenced virtually every aspect of fashion today.
While the artist was largely unknown before her death, her legacy has now been preserved thanks to the work of other artists. The Cooper Hewitt Museum has bought the archive of Zuzek’s work from her estate. This archive contains more than 2,500 original drawings, which have been conserved and catalogued. The exhibition also features vintage Lilly Pulitzer pieces. Besides this, the museum has purchased 10 Zuzek drawings for permanent inclusion in its collections.
In 2007, Becky Smith, a former lawyer, visited Key West, Florida, to locate vintage fabrics from the Lilly Pulitzer company. The key west fabric company, Key West Hand Print Fabrics, was where Lilly Pulitzer produced its most original fabric. Then, in the 1980s, Martha de Poo, who headed the art department of the fabric company, told Becky Smith about a young woman named Suzie Zuzek, who was the designer for the company.
Zuzek’s 30-year archive
During her thirty-year career with the iconic American fashion house, Becky Zuzek accumulated over 1,500 designs and more than 500 unregistered works. Her 6,000-odd-piece archive was vast, and her family was determined to preserve it. During her tenure, she recalled how incredibly daunting cataloguing this collection had been. In the end, the entire archive was saved and catalogued, and the Cooper Hewitt Museum acquired a selection of ten of the drawings for its permanent collection.
A new museum exhibition celebrating the designs of Suzie Zuzek reveals her artistic contribution to the unique style of Lilly Pulitzer. The exhibition features more than thirty original watercolor drawings, as well as screen-printed textiles. The collection also includes some of Pulitzer’s most famous fashions. In addition, ten drawings from Zuzek’s archive at Key West Hand Print Fabrics are on display, which are now privately owned.
The exhibition at the Cooper Hewitt museum showcases Zuzek’s work for Pulitzer. The artist worked in graphite and watercolor to create her iconic designs, deploying her signature light touch and omnidirectional motifs in her patterns. In addition to her paintings, Zuzek also utilized deep cuts and the handmade printing process to make her designs. This exhibition was especially meaningful to Pulitzer, because the collection reflects her creative process.
Originally, Zuzek only designed clothing, but she eventually began assembling her own archive of Lilly Pulitzer prints. Then, she met Peter Pell in Key West. The two became friends, and soon after, Becky Smith championed the brand’s legacy. The archive now houses more than 2,000 pieces and has become one of the most admired collections of Lilly Pulitzer prints in the United States.
While Lilly Pulitzer was a famous fashion designer, Zuzek’s work was equally influential. Lilly was a symbol of the mescaline high of a tropical morning on an endless golf course. Zuzek’s designs gave even the most simple dresses and mini skirts a sense of sophistication, even if they were made with minimal embellishments. Lilly’s designers took inspiration from everything: from Roman coins to cabbage to African wildlife.
Suzie Zuzek was a Key West-based artist who painted the prints for the renowned fashion house. She died in 2011, but her archive had been thought to have been destroyed during the 1984 bankruptcy of the company. Only a few years ago, Zuzek’s archive was discovered on a sub-floor of a warehouse. The prints are now available for sale online.
In the 1960s, Lilly Pulitzer was an influential Palm Beach socialite. Tropical-print dresses and accessories became a fashion staple, and the print designs remain timeless today. Lilly Pulitzer’s prints were also a hit with the jet set and were worn by fashion icons from the 1950s to the 1970s. Lilly Pulitzer was so popular that she was nicknamed the “Queen of Prep” because of her association with wealthy people.
Zuzek’s work for Lilly Pulitzer
A book about Suzie Zuzek’s Lilly Pulitzer prints is now available. This design icon has a special place in American fashion history. Lilly Pulitzer prints were synonymous with technicolor, sorority girls, and sugar fortunes. Zuzek’s designs were a significant part of the evolution of resort fashion. After graduating from the Cooper Hewitt School of Design in 1951, Zuzek honed her skills in New York City and became a successful designer for Lilly Pulitzer.
Although she graduated from Pratt Institute in 1949, Zuzek later moved to Key West, Florida, where she worked part-time for the infamous Key West Hand Print Fabrics. This exhibition is free, but it is highly recommended that you reserve tickets in advance. Located on the second floor of the Cooper Hewitt Museum, Zuzek’s work for Lilly Pulitzer prints will surely capture your attention.
Zuzek’s work was featured on many famous women’s clothing lines. She designed thousands of fabrics for the popular Lilly Pulitzer line. Key West Hand Print Fabrics was a huge customer of Pulitzer. Zuzek’s work for the Lilly Pulitzer collection accounted for up to 85% of the fabrics used by the brand between 1962 and 1985. The company’s first customer was the famed Lilly Pulitzer, who ordered 300 yards. Ultimately, Pulitzer ordered 3,000 yards.
Though Zuzek did not receive adequate compensation for her contributions to Lilly Pulitzer, she has achieved recognition for her art. A recent exhibition dedicated to Zuzek’s works for Lilly Pulitzer prints will be held at the Cooper Hewitt Museum in late fall, perhaps even during the Holidays. Until then, be sure to check out the exhibit. This exhibition is a rare chance for art lovers to celebrate a life well lived.
A new exhibition devoted to Zuzek’s designs for Lilly Pulitzer will feature over 35 of the designer’s prints. This exhibition will be followed by a monograph on Zuzek’s works for Lilly Pulitzer. Rizzoli Electa will publish the book. Zuzek’s work for Lilly Pulitzer prints will also be featured in a book about the artisanal process of silkscreen printing.
The original art works Zuzek produced for Lilly Pulitzer were eventually archived by the brand. Luckily, Smith’s efforts paid off, and her archive of original drawings and paintings resides in an art storage facility in Florida. The original drawings were preserved in the heat and humidity of Key West. The book will also feature over 35 original watercolors and vintage Lilly Pulitzer pieces. The museum is also acquiring 10 original drawings as part of a permanent exhibition on Zuzek.
The Lilly Pulitzer company eventually filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1984. The company’s brand name and trademark were retained by the new owners. However, in the mid-90s, the company sold the printing company to a group of businessmen. This group never utilized the old patterns and Suzie Zuzek’s designs. Ultimately, the company ceased operations. However, her legacy continues.
About The Author
Wendy Lee is a pop culture ninja who knows all the latest trends and gossip. She's also an animal lover, and will be friends with any creature that crosses her path. Wendy is an expert writer and can tackle any subject with ease. But most of all, she loves to travel - and she's not afraid to evangelize about it to anyone who'll listen! Wendy enjoys all kinds of Asian food and cultures, and she considers herself a bit of a ninja when it comes to eating spicy foods.