With her first spring collection, Merlette designer Marina Cortbawi is expanding into accessories with the launch of handbags. While the Brooklyn-based designer usually creates two collections a year on the pre-season model, COVID-19 changed the brand’s plans. Instead, she launched an “Essentials Capsule” for resort and is unveiling a full lineup for spring. While the designer doesn’t necessarily plan to continue on this model, she is going with the flow in these unprecedented times. 

Voluminous shapes reminiscent of former styles were updated with tulip sleeves, pleating, ruching, new smocking (braided and geometric hand-work) and eyelet techniques, french knots and for the first time, hints of hand beading. The lineup of luxurious cottons, airy silks and versatile wools came in a palette of light pink, powdery blue, inky navy, neutrals and a shocking pink, inspired by Mexican artist Rufino Tamoya’s piece “The Dancers.”

While handbags — a selection of three styles made from the same premium, leftover fabrics as the ready-to-wear, which launch in April and range from $560 for the tote and go up to $660 for the bucket bag — were certainly the biggest news of the season, the collection also included more skin-baring (but still modest) offerings. For instance, a high-low tank dress with smoked pocket details and braided straps. From easy suiting to fluid dresses (all of which would look adorable atop the designer’s new superfine merino leggings), Cortbawi’s fashionable consistency was key once again.

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