Suzie Zuzek's whimsical fabric designs shaped fashion trends in the 1960s and 1970s. Fashion designer Lily Pulitzer used this fabric in many of her most iconic outfits.
Zuzek studied textile design and illustration at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. She graduated at the top of her class. After she spent three years working in New York, she moved to Key West, Florida, where her husband had grown up.
Between 1962 and 1985, Zuzek created over 1,500 designs for Key West Hand Print Fabrics, Inc.—more than anyone else at the company. She drew these designs using watercolors, pen, pencil, and ink. Then the designs, often featuring vivid flowers and animals, were turned into fabrics.
Zuzek's designs became popular when Pulitzer used Key West Hand Print Fabrics to create colorful, simple sportwear. Fashionable celebrities including actress Audrey Hepburn and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy wore Pulitzer designs. But most people wearing Pulitzer fashions did not know Zuzek's name. This is not uncommon, as fabric designers often go uncredited for their work.
These prints and others will be part of the upcoming exhibition Suzie Zuzek for Lilly Pulitzer: The Prints That Made the Fashion Brand at our Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. Dates for the exhibition will be announced.