Design

Puppets and Puppets Gears Up for NYFW

Carly Mark and Ayla Argentina are reinventing the wheel: a runway show of handmade, one-of-a-kind, sometimes absurd fashion pieces as art.

Callan Malone

puppets4
Danny Bowien in Puppets and Puppets SS20. Photo by Richie Shazam. Courtesy of Puppets and Puppets.

Artist Carly Mark’s chihuahua terrier, Puppet, is the first to greet me atop the red carpeted stairs of the artist’s second-floor Greenwich Village walk-up. I have to ask, of course, if her fashion line Puppets and Puppets is named for her canine friend. “Oh. Absolutely.” Mark’s creative partner Ayla Argentina jumps in, “It’s his line.”

Ayla Argentina and Carly Mark. Courtesy of Puppets and Puppets.

Mark’s apartment has turned into a full-blown fashion studio as the two prepare for their second showing at New York Fashion Week this fall. “It was supposed to be a temporary situation, but we ended up loving it,” she says. “I have all of our first season looks in boxes under my bed, Ayla sleeps on the couch, season two is on the racks and my bookshelf has become a shoe holder. I wouldn’t have it any other way.” Mark moved to New York 13 years ago to pursue fine art and spent years working in her own studio while bouncing around galleries downtown. Argentina came on as her studio assistant four years ago and was the driving force in Mark’s transition to fashion as an art medium. The two had been making costume-like pieces, Mark conceptualizing, Argentina executing, for quite some time before Argentina put their foot down and said, “We’re doing it. We’re putting together a show.”

Danny Bowien in Puppets and Puppets SS20. Photo by Richie Shazam. Courtesy of Puppets and Puppets.

Puppets and Puppets’ Fall 2019 show was made possible by a dreamy collection of collaborations: sunglasses with Poppy Lissiman, tights with Maison Soksi and platform shoes unlike anything you’ve ever seen with Margalit Cutler. This season is no different. Mark loves collaboration and finds great value in bringing together creative minds if it means making something bigger, better and bolder. “I wish I could do a show thats name was so long it was just someone x someone x someone x someone… so many x’s. That’s a dream.” The Spring 2020 collection features some tee shirts that get close: Puppets and Puppets x Mission Chinese x Emily Dawn Long tees will be available in short supply following the show this week, in addition to the Poppy Lissiman sunglasses which have been redesigned for spring. Emily Dawn Long, downtown New York’s queen of tie-dye, will also be in charge of the tights this season. The full Puppets and Puppets looks, however, are runway only. Argentina and Mark have made conscious decisions not to go into production for the time being; the tee shirts being an exception as they are upcycled. Where art meets sustainability is of the utmost importance to them. “There are so many tee shirts in the world,” says Mark. “I don’t need to make a new one.” At a time when fast fashion has become omnipresent, Mark and Argentina join a group of young designers in New York who aim to push back.

Puppets and Puppets shows its Spring 2020 collection on September 8 at the Prince George Ballroom, New York.