Designer Marina Cortbawi has been continuing to focus on Merlette’s brand DNA of airy, cotton dresses and separates with signature hand-embroidered details. For Collection 4, the styles grew in number with new tops, dresses and pants. Ellsworth Kelly’s lithographs of negative space and plants inspired both the palette — Malaki green and petal pink with black, white and navy — as well as the textures. Cortbawi infuses the illusion of print via her hand-embroidered details, like a dress with shadow embroidery or bias cut fille coupe striped Italian poplin dress, each offered in multiple colors. Hand smocked and tiered ruffles, basket weave smocking, Victorian sleeves and ruched wrists made for new additions to the cotton silhouettes. The lot was sensibly paired over high-waisted, wide-leg tonal cotton trousers, perfect for the pre-fall season. Cortbawi is also strategically adding updated colorways to classics, like an oversize, Malaki green tiered wrap dress, in order to build her customers’ ideal wardrobes. The approach is to grow sensibly by keeping the line tight and listening to her customers’ feedback — and it’s clearly working. Since the last collection, the brand has grown from 80 to 130 individual shops in Japan, in addition to launching on