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March 12, 2009 6:13 PM

Fashion

Lilly Pulitzer: Perfection Isn't Overrated

Lilly Pulitzer at her shop in the Seventies. "It doesn't have to be perfect," Janie Schoenborn, design director for print, pattern, accessories and footwear and creative adviser at Lilly Pulitzer, told a very focused Martha Stewart Wednesday morning as...

Lilly Pulitzer at her shop in the Seventies.

"It doesn't have to be perfect," Janie Schoenborn, design director for print, pattern, accessories and footwear and creative adviser at Lilly Pulitzer, told a very focused Martha Stewart Wednesday morning as the domestic diva tried her hand at print designing on her eponymous show. Martha Stewart, imperfect? As if. Stewart's pattern -- a replication of Buena Vista, a white, blue and green seashell pattern coming for the brand's A Colorful Cause summer collection for charity -- was as impeccably turned out as Stewart herself was. With 190 Lilly-clad audience members watching -- and wearing everything from riotous patterns of oversize pink peonies (that would be me), fuchsia monkeys with cocktails and blue ceramic jugs -- Schoenborn and Stewart first traced the photograph on vellum, then placed it on heavy paper and outlined it with a Sharpie, allowing the broad outlines of the rendering to bleed through to the paper below. Next, Stewart and Schoenborn indulged their colorful sides by filling in with watercolors in blue and green hues.

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While Stewart may appear to be the type of classic prepster to have worn Lilly since the brand's 1959 founding, she noted it wasn't on her radar screen while growing up in Nutley, N.J. "It wasn't at Barnard, either," she said with a light laugh.

But she appears to be a convert now: clad in an Elliot shirt in Shaken Up (a spring 2009 blue-and-white pattern picturing monkeys balancing cocktails on their noses) and white jeans, Stewart, along with Schoenborn, hosted a short fashion show -- which included a not-too-enthusiastic dog in a Lilly collar, who bowed out of the proceedings halfway through (perhaps the Day-Glo collar wasn't quite his thing?) -- before whipping up a batch of key lime mojitos. The party spirit continued up at the Lilly Pulitzer flagship on Madison Avenue. Company owners James Bradbeer and Scott Beaumont chartered three buses for the audience, passing out snack bags and princess hats for the ride to the Upper East Side. As the buses drew up to the store, fans saw display windows with the company's design staff diligently painting patterns for future lines.

And an idea the line's founder Lillian McKim Pulitzer Rousseau herself would endorse, it wasn't a virgin punch the waiters were distributing inside the store. Serving pink Champagne and key lime mojitos -- in orange-slice-patterned Lilly tumblers -- to the guests kept the cash registers ringing.
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