Chic Absurdity. Puppets & Puppets AW23

Puppets & Puppets is one of these New York brands you can’t easily describe. Calling it “surreal” would feel somewhat flat. Elusive, weird, strange, dramatic? Carly Mark‘s universe doesn’t really need a label. One thing’s certain: she loves a cultural reference. Accessorizing a collection inspired by the Dead Ringers film with bags that have phone receivers as handles – that’s Puppets & Puppets behaviour. Then there’s a blow-up print of a 1783 painting, The Operation by Gaspare Traversi, which depicts the wild-eyed face of a screaming man being operated on seemingly without anesthesia. The gory details weren’t immediately apparent when the material was made into garments, even when large swaths of it were used on a sculptural dress that related back to one from last season. The designer also revisited the egg motif (on bras and shoes) introduced in her American Psycho-inspired debut for spring 2020. Despite a few macabre touches, the mood of the autumn collection was sunny-side up: playfully optimistic and sizzling. “I am designing with my body in mind,” said Mark. “The roses on the boobs or the egg bra, where nipples would be – it’s very suggestive. It’s very feminine, it’s very sexual, and it’s a conversation that I’m having with myself in an alpha role in a predominantly male business and world.” Two of the strongest looks were a dress and suit with sheer inset corseting, revealing the midriff; those tailored pieces succeeding in bringing masculine and feminine together, which was one of Mark’s goals. Besides the pannier-like dresses there were also sequin sheaths, a few frocks made in a retro paisley and some party-ready mini dresses. Not every idea from the collection felt refined enough, and there were some low points, like the python-printed jumpsuits and beaded head-wear. Mark tends to overwork her runway looks. Sometimes, madness needs some method.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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