Inspired by the pre-Raphaelite period, Marina Cortbawi designed a rich and romantic pre-fall collection with a darker mood for Merlette. 

“I think that period of time represents freedom and to not be feminized in a certain way anymore, or feel less restricted, which is always our ethos anyway,” Cortbawi explained over Zoom, adding she was inspired by the reasons for rebellion against the Victorian. “Also, this [collection] is shipping in May and June, so we’re going to hopefully come out of our own period of restriction.”

Cortbawi and her design team delved into researching pre-Raphaelite fashions and, “the way they created a bit of body in a voluminous sack of fabric,” to inject techniques of the era into evolved Merlette silhouettes. These techniques — soutache embroidery, contrast stitched hand-pleating and corded draping — ran throughout on lovely dresses and airy blouses alongside large, bold pre-Raphaelite printed floral frocks, delicate eyelet fashions and plush knit layers. The collection’s strength stemmed from Cortbawi’s modern interpretations of the era’s techniques in silhouettes that feel of the time, comfortable and still dressed-up. Examples included a sleeveless hand-pleated, contrast stitched frock with Victorian buttons up the front atop sleek black trousers or roomy printed nap dresses in chartreuse, aqua and navy or plum, tangerine and olive paired with updated, mini seasonal bags (a standout in a chartreuse knitted viscose cord).