tortuga time

Tortuga Time! Lilly Pulitzer Designs Print Inspired by Local Sea Turtle

Lilly release 2017_selfie

Taking a selfie with Fletch, at Lilly the loggerhead sea turtle’s release in May. Photo provided by Loggerhead Marinelife Center.

Sometimes, one special animal can inspire true artistry. Think of William Wegman and his first wiemaraner Man Ray that inspired the most well-known work from the artist.

Lilly, a rehabilitated loggerhead sea turtle, had that special something.

It had been a long journey for Lilly—named after the fashion house Lilly Pulitzer. Last October she was discovered with a deep, festering wound on her carapace. For more than six months, the employees at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach carefully nursed her back to life, using an array of treatments to heal her body: antibiotics, laser therapy, hydrotherapy and even good ole honey.

Lilly crawls to the Atlantic Ocean as she is released back into the wild. Photo provided by Loggerhead Marinelife Center.

Lilly crawls to the Atlantic Ocean as she is released back into the wild. Photo provided by Loggerhead Marinelife Center.

When she was finally ready to be released back into the wild in May, dozens of people gathered in Juno Beach to watch her return to the ocean. Among the wide-eyed spectators was 42-year-old Kelly Ring, who says her eyes became misty when the marine animal disappeared beneath the sparkling waves.

“I have been to several turtle releases. They are all special in their own right, but Lilly girl’s was especially touching,” Ring says. “It’s hard not to shed a tear when they hit the ocean.”

It was during Lilly’s gradual progress at the turtle hospital that she charmed Ring and scores of other locals. She even caught the eye of representatives from Lilly Pulitzer, one of the most iconic Palm Beach brands, and a partner of the Loggerhead Marinelife Center.

The Jane Shift Dress with Tortuga Time pattern. Photo provided by Lilly Pulitzer.

The Jane Shift Dress with Tortuga Time pattern. Photo provided by Lilly Pulitzer.

They were so inspired by the turtle’s triumphant return to the briny ocean that the fashion house commissioned a new print for turtle-adorned apparel. On top of celebrating her return to the wild, a percentage of the new print’s sales will go toward helping the staff at the nonprofit Loggerhead Marinelife Center with its conservation efforts, specifically in caring for injured turtles and funding education and research initiatives.

It’s all part of Lilly Pulitzer’s Print with Purpose initiative, which seeks to use fashion as a vehicle for positive change.

The new sea turtle design, called Tortuga Time, is now the company’s second Print with Purpose pattern to be released. The first under this pay-it-forward program was Jungle Hoppin. Released in April, a portion of its sales went toward the Rainforest Alliance.

Lilly on a gurney, about to be released. Photo provided by Loggerhead Marinelife Center.

Lilly on a gurney, about to be released. Photo provided by Loggerhead Marinelife Center.

“Inspiration for our second Print with Purpose came easy—we’ve learned so much about sea turtles from our friends at Loggerhead Marinelife Center and got to know a very special turtle, Lilly, over the past year,” a brand spokesperson tells Boca. “Lilly print inspiration often comes from the ocean and favorite critters, however, this one is very near and dear to our heart.”

Ring, who believes Lilly’s return to the ocean was a “true success story,” says she is excited about the new print. “I plan to be at the store when it hits the shelves,” she says. Ring is a Lilly Pulitzer enthusiast, and she attended the Lilly Pulitzer Beach Bash in January.

The Lana Off The Shoulder Romper with Tortuga Time print. Photo provided by Lilly Pulitzer.

The Lana Off The Shoulder Romper with Tortuga Time print. Photo provided by Lilly Pulitzer.

The print is featured on a romper, shift dress, T-shirt, popover jacket, maxi dress and a dress for children. The pattern, of course, includes a turtle shell design, as well as seagrass and intricate shells, and the primary color is aqua green with splashes of navy blue, lime green and primrose pink. It is iconically Lilly—bright, nautical and feminine.  Depending on the piece, the clothing may comprise textured rayon, cotton jersey, flat French terry or rayon spandex.

You can buy Lilly Pulitzer clothes with the Tortuga Time print on Loggerhead Marinelife Day, Sat. Aug 19, at The Gardens Mall. According to mall’s event page, 10 percent of Lilly Pulitzer sales will be given back to the Loggerhead Marinelife Center that day.

“There is no better marriage than Lilly and turtles,” says Ring, urging locals to buy Tortuga Time apparel. “Purchasing this print just solidifies the good work of both the [sea turtle] hospital and the philanthropic heart of this great company. Lilly herself would be tickled pink about this union.”

Jonathan Kendall is a published writer with bylines in the Miami New Times and the New Times Broward-Palm Beach. He was born and raised in sunny South Florida and is a graduate of Harvard University, where he studied journalism under several Nieman Fellows.