Style Story / Marina Cortbawi

6 years ago by

Walking into Marina’s Upper West Side flat was walking into a dream. I’ll let the following images back me up. Her generous hospitality and warm demeanor made me feel right at home (tea? croissant? don’t mind if I do!), as did her delicately alluring style. Everything felt effortless, elevated, and dare I say it, relatable. That’s the beauty of our Style Stories. We get to experience the lifestyles of women we admire and share that here with you. This shoot was the perfect start to my day and I hope it will be for you too. Meet Marina!


Describe your style in 3 words.
Feminine, undone, subtle details.

What’s most important when it comes to style: comfort, beauty, or innovation?

Most valued thing in your closet?
An Oscar de la Renta all – embroidered lace applique gown from their SS12 runway. I appreciate the handwork and can never seem to part with it.

Marina Cortbawi Atelier Dore


Navy belted gown, Merlette ; Black suede ballerinas, Celine ; Star Earrings, Ileana Makri .

Style Story / Marina Cortbawi

Do you have a fashion muse?
I love Bianca Jagger

Are there things you don’t wear?
I don’t like to wear any athleisure clothing, I just cannot get into this. I do yoga for exercise but I prefer to wear plain cotton leggings and good quality cotton t-shirts.

You mentioned that you mainly wear white, year round, which might come as a surprise to some. How did this evolve to be your signature style? And what are your tricks to making it work in the colder months?
I don’t really know where it came from, I just know that I feel really good when I wear white, fresher, happier I suppose. White makes it alright! I have long collected vintage white cotton blouses and they are still to this day my favorite pieces to wear just with jeans. In the winter, I layer white Victorian style gowns and blouses over pants and fine knits. I don’t like my clothes under my coat to ever feel heavy even in the winter, and these kinds of garments make me feel light and feminine.

Marina Cortbawi Atelier Dore


Blouse, Merlette ; Pants, Merlette ; Shoes, Celine.

Style Story / Marina Cortbawi

Each piece in Merlette’s collection makes a statement and carries so much versatility in the way it can be worn. What is the inspiration behind the way you design your collections?
We design based on traditional embroidery techniques and attempt to modernize them and make them wearable on an everyday basis. One of our signatures in smocking, and I love experimenting with new techniques and all different types of handwork. The questions we ask ourselves for every piece we design is, would I want to travel with this or does it inspire me to book a holiday even though I wasn’t thinking of one!? Is it easy to pack in a suitcase? Can I also pair it back to jeans and wear it in the evening as well as on the beach or to a work meeting? It must have multi-use. And we want women to just feel really special and for the piece to complement her own uniqueness.

As a native Aussie, an adopted Brit, and now, a fellow New Yorker, you have traveled around quite a bit – what have you learned from each place and how have they effected your personal style?
As an Aussie, I grew up dressing for comfort and warmer climate, this is where my love of cotton began I suppose but it was always a very casual lifestyle – in the car, at the beach… the vibe is so different to here.

When I first moved to London, I loved that I could get very dressed up in the day and just go out to tea or a museum if I felt like it! There I did not feel I needed an occasion to get dressed up. Also, the cooler climate encourages more effort and that’s where I really developed my creativity in my own styling and discovering more about what I liked and trying new fabrics, constructions. I started to mix vintage with designer and I became experimental and wore lots of prints, colors and layering.

In New York, I find most of the time I am working and travelling more than ever before, and really am way too tempted go back to the same things day after day! I try to have few good quality long lasting pieces, so I have simplified my style more and prefer minimalism these days but always with subtle details.

Marina Cortbawi Atelier Dore


Style Story / Marina Cortbawi

Long white eyelet, Merlette ; Cami, Matin Studio ; Jeans, GRLFRND ; Shoes, Santoni ; Earrings, Bird Brooklyn .


Add yours
  • Coucou,

    Magnifique tes photos !


  • Great interview and the ballerinas…obviously shoes to die for! Love them!

  • I love your style stories. The evolution of personal style is really evident in this story. The 3 diverse environments that created the style of Marina . Great story and inspiring style.
    Dress The Part

  • Great style of Marina! Such a beautiful person! <3
    Thanks for nice story and wonderful photos!


  • This is one of those interviews where I really wish you asked how she got started. The sheer amount of money on display here – it’s hard for it to be aspirational or inspiring without knowing how she started. I look at that huge-looking apartment and the prewar details and think, “Oh, she must have come from money.” But that could be super sexist of me! Or I could be right! Anyhow, it’s a bit of context that helps someone seem real and appealing (and their clothes, too).

  • I feel the same! And more often so here on AD.

  • Hi Jessica,

    I appreciate your point here and will absolutely keep in mind for future stories!

    Marina’s apartment is actually quite small, just elegantly decorated (her husband does interiors). The shot of her in the grand staircase is where her elevator bank is in the building. She worked really hard as a fashion designer for brands like Oscar De La Renta, etc…until she saved up enough money to start her own brand, much of which she wears here and is reasonably priced for a contemporary brand.

    I know how things sometimes seem from a beautiful image, but there is a lot of hard work behind them on both fronts! Hope this helps you get a better idea of her lifestyle.

    Tori xo

  • Lovely.

    Would love to see more of the home (was looking for the home tour) maybe I missed it…?

  • She is a romantic. I love that, as it is rare these days.

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