The legacy of Lilly Pulitzer was honored with the “Style Icon” award presented by Dress for Success Palm Beaches at the nonprofit’s seventh annual Style for Hope fundraising luncheon held March 6 at the Kravis Center.
Lilly Leas Ferreira, Pulitzer’s namesake granddaughter, accepted the award. She recalled anecdotes and reminiscences of her grandmother during an onstage interview that also included Erin Stein, senior print designer with the Lilly Pulitzer company, plus TV celebrity and fashion guru Carson Kressley, who added insights about the impact of Pulitzer on fashion, culture and history.
WPTV Channel 5 news anchor Kelley Dunn emceed the program and moderated the conversation in front of more than 600 guests. It’s estimated that the event raised more than $100,000, significantly surpassing previous years.
“In choosing to present the Style Icon award posthumously to Lilly Pulitzer, it’s not just because of all she accomplished in her business life, it’s also recognizing the joy and uplifting confidence her fashions bring to those wearing her label. She was empowered, and she paid it forward, empowering so many others,” Dunn said.
A celebration of DFSPB’s 10th anniversary was another highlight of the event, and Diane Wilde, who founded the local chapter and is the former executive director, joined the current executive director, Mary Hart, in honoring longtime volunteer Henny Santo.
A standing ovation was given to client speaker Olive Ford. The 30-year-old had completed one of DFSPB’s job readiness programs, and she shared the emotionally charged story of how she has emerged from a cycle of abuse at the hands of her parents throughout childhood, and subsequently in her relationships with men. She revealed that her breaking point was learning that her young son had been abused by one of her boyfriends.
Ford credits her caseworkers at Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse (AVDA) and therapists at HomeSafe with helping her overcome the trauma, and the agencies ultimately referred her to Dress for Success, which further helped restore her self-esteem and self-worth. Soon after, she snagged an entry level position at Amazon, where she remained for 18 months, but at the luncheon, she proudly announced that she was starting a new position at NYU-Langone Health’s call center in Boynton Beach, where she had been offered an even better compensation package.
“I was broken,” Ford said. “But I’ve found the kind of caring and nurturing I needed to be revived… to survive… and to thrive. My story continues to unfold, but I’m more confident and self-aware than ever before. Dress for Success is my hero.”
For her appearance, Ford was treated to a session with Kressley, who personally styled her wardrobe for the occasion, making selections from the donated head-to-toe apparel at the Dress for Success boutique in Palm Springs.
“I have always known that clothes are a powerful tool,” Kressley said. “The right ones can instantly give you the confidence to rule the world. I loved being able to help Olive find that confidence. That is literally dressing for success.”
Dress for Success is an international not-for-profit organization that empowers women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and the development tools. The local affiliate opened its doors in April 2010 and has assisted nearly 6,000 women through job readiness courses and its defining wardrobing program. Learn more at https://palmbeaches.dressforsuccess.org.