Socialite-turned-fashion designer Lilly Pulitzer has died at the age of 81.

The star, famed for her colourful print dresses in the 1960s, died in Florida on Sunday (07Apr13) from causes unknown.

Born Lilly MCKim in 1931, she married into the famous newspaper family in 1952 when she wed Pete Pulitzer, grandson of publishing tycoon Joseph Pulitzer.

She came up with her money-making clothing idea after opening a juice stand in Florida in 1959 and expressing a need for printed dresses to camouflage fruit stains.

Her signature Lilly designs, often featuring flowers or tropical fruit, quickly caught on, with former U.S. First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy even modelling a sleeveless shift in a photoshoot for Life magazine.