The key to New York designer Marina Cortbawi’s designs for Merlette have consistently melded ease and wearability with intricate, technical handwork. Her resort collection — which includes resort and spring — continued this ethos through breezy, layerable daywear and a new, slightly dressier “evening” assortment.
“Any piece that’s versatile and has more than one element or way of wearing it, our customers absolutely love that,” she said of the collection’s blouses, often seen beneath her signature dresses.
The look: Subtle, feminine ease.
Quote of note: “The whole collection is inspired by artist Alma Thomas. She was an African American artist who became well known in her 70s — she actually started painting professionally in her 70s and was an art teacher before then. She’s so inspiring — not only her personal style was wonderful, but her mosaic style of flower, flower fields and space,” Cortbawi said of resort’s palette and prints (which very subtly alluded to the inspiration).
Key pieces: New takes on signature fluid dresses, blouses and skirts with intricate fabric manipulations and handwork (including pin-tucks, ruching and smocking, as well as “infinity” appliqués and eyelet details) in myriad types of cotton, chambray, silk and more; yarn-dyed daisy cotton jacquard dresses with matching puff-sleeve blouses; short bubble-hem, hand “sharks tooth” smocked silk dresses (great in citrine); a quilted jacket with suede smocking.
The takeaway: The collection continued to offer an evolution of Cortbawi’s thoughtful approach to easily wearable designs.