Typically, Labor Day weekend signifies the final fête of summer. And that usually means the end of billowy tops, flouncy skirts, and other loose, whimsical attire synonymous with summer days.
But designer Marina Cortbawi of Merlette has a different approach to what we used to think of as summer attire. Her newly launched collection is meant for travelers. She took the name merlette from the swooping house martin in French heraldry, a medieval symbol of the wandering traveler, and she says she likes to design for women who are constantly in flight, moving from place to place. Cortbawi sees the Merlette woman as someone who likes to “travel irrespective of seasons or temperatures.”
The collection honors the expectations and desires of the woman wherever she is, without attention to “climates and seasons.” Corbawi cites California as an example of a place where someone is in little need of the “heavier clothing” typically seen in the Fall/Winter designer collections.
Cortbawi grew up in Sydney, of Lebanese origin, but she learned the trade in London, Paris, and New York. She studied fashion design and illustration at the esteemed Central Saint Martins and the London College of Fashion. Afterwards, she landed in New York, where she worked on the business side of the storied fashion houses Oscar de la Renta and Carolina Herrera.
While she was there, Marina was able to travel abroad frequently, and “became fascinated with understanding the various nuances between cultures and the different market needs.” Meeting women around the world, she acquired a broader understanding of the kind of clothes women wore internationally. The Merlette woman has “a global perspective, and she has character regardless of her age,” says Corbawi.
The collection has a romantic flair, with its wide, billowy silhouettes and soft, cotton fabric. The line is brimming with gorgeous sheer wrap-tie blouses; short, off-the-shoulder eyelet lace dresses; gossamer gowns; voluminous puff-sleeve tops. The easy silhouettes convey a carefree femininity — ideal for any women who likes to travel light.
With just three colors to choose from, red, white, and black, it should make for easy packing, and avoid any headaches selecting outfit combinations. Merlette is the perfect traveler’s wardrobe: airy, beautiful, and minimalistic.
Merlette will debut two collections per year, on the see-now, buy-now model. Merlette made its debut online at Moda Operandi and is now available at merlettenyc.com. Items are priced between $150 and $500.
Click and see what you can scoop up from Merlette to wear all year long, as you gallivant around the world.