In the span of six months, artist Carly Mark’s Greenwich Village apartment has gone from a peaceful respite to a fashion disaster zone. Since she and former assistant Ayla Argentina founded the new-wave grunge label Puppets and Puppets during New York Fashion Week in February, her living room been overtaken by drafting tables and sewing machines. On a recent visit, Mark crosses the room to review a new sample and lets out a shriek — a latent pin has found its way deep into the bottom of her foot.
Mark and Argentina’s first fashion week outing was generally well-received — the brand has steadily been fielding requests from buyers, stylists and clientele. But their avant-garde debut — a stylish outing in vintage reconstruction — didn’t offer much in the way of commerce. Now, for their second season, the duo is ready to get down to business. A web shop selling more wearable fare will launch soon after the brand’s show on Sunday.
“The theme of this season is Romanov meets ‘American Psycho,’ we are interested in how both relate to a theme of collusion which relates to the news today and what’s going on in this country politically. There is a lot of fantasy there, which is an interest of ours and a jumping-off point from the fine-art practice I was doing before that had a fantasy element as well,” Mark said of her brand’s sophomore theme.
A mash-up of period revival pieces (hoop skirts, red velvet opera coats) and modern streetwear (rhinestone logo T-shirts, easy tapered pants) are to be presented in unison.
“We have been really focused on fine-tuning our tailoring and doing a lot more with underpinnings like hoop skirts to support these silhouettes,” said Argentina.
Further carrying the Romanov thread are a series of shoes that incorporate an egg motif — a nod to the final czar’s affinity for Fabergé. Though instead of bejeweled eggs, Mark and Argentina took the theme literally — commissioning artist Margalit Cutler to craft a series of shoes that have chicken egg heels or supermarket egg carton soles.
Mark and Argentina have spent the past few months consulting with the CFDA on deadstock fabric sources to continue fueling their brand’s sustainable mission. “We will always be working with upcycled fabric or pre-constructed clothes that we recycle — sustainability is our number-one priority other than creative,” said Mark.
“Now we are interested in sales and making product for customers to buy,” she added. Bejeweled Puppets and Puppets T-shirts, which the duo hopes will be a hero product for the brand, will be priced from $150 to $250. Tailored pants, blouses and skinny suits will range from $250 to $1,000 with all product produced in New York City.