In just four years Puppets and Puppets has evolved from a fashion project by an artist to a bona fide fashion brand. Carly Mark’s Eyes Wide Shut-inspired spring 2023 collection was arguably her most wearable. What seems to be happening is that the designs are becoming more aligned with Mark herself, concurrent with her development as an entrepreneur. The designer made the switch to fashion because she was feeling isolated in the art world. “I like interacting with humans,” she explained at a preview. “So I knew I wanted to do something creative, but it needed to be in a way where I was interacting with other bodies and having conversations.” The name she gave the brand is a reference to a cyberpunk anime called Ghost in the Shell; over time her inspirations have become ever more cinematic. And there is a shift from a more illustrative take on clothing to a more photographic one, both in a metaphorical and literal sense. The “demon” print in the spring line-up, which looks anatomical, is actually a manipulated still from the movie Scrooge. If that seems random, you might recall that Eyes Wide Shut is set at Christmas time. This print shares space in the collection with a jacquard based on Gustave Doré’s engravings of Dante’s Inferno and a sweater with an abstract orgy theme (another reference to Stanley Kubrick’s film). The final look features moonbows that call attention to the bust at the same time that volume emphasizes the hips. One of the reasons the designer took Eyes Wide Shut as her inspiration was because Nicole Kidman was such a powerful presence. In one of the scenes in which the actress revealed her strength she was physically vulnerable, wearing only high-cut panties and a camisole. “I’ve been thinking about Nicole Kidman specifically this season because I just turned 34 and I’m growing a business and I’m growing my confidence; I have to in order to run a business,” Mark said. “So I think about being a woman who is sexual, and business minded, and living in a city, and trying to hold my own, and trying to be intelligent, and trying to connect with other people. It’s hard, and it’s funny, and it’s fun, and it’s difficult – and it’s all the things.”
Collage by Edward Kanarecki. Don’t forget to follow Design & Culture by Ed on Instagram!
And just like that, we’ve got the second fruit of Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons‘ partnership at Prada – the autumn-winter 2021 collection for men. My first impressions are equal to the ones I had after their debut back in September: a cocktail of feelings. What hits first while watching the fashion show video is the pure mystery, something fashion has forgotten in the last couple of years. The set – a number of geometric chambers made of contrasting colours and textures – had you wonder if it reflects the indoors or outdoors. Or some sort of another dimension, maybe? The analogous sensation of contrasts (something Miuccia always loves) was delivered in the line-up: the oddest colour combinations that worked incredibly well, and clashing textures, from tactile camels and corduroys to synthetic PVC and nylons. Then, the question: who are those guys? Where are they heading to? In the post-show interview with selected students from all over the world, Simons highlighted that he and Miuccia aren’t working with themes. For them gestures, notions and the “unsaid” are much more important. And that keeps the mystery oozing from those characters, who in short video intervals are caught dancing to Plastikman’s soundtrack made specially for the show. Maybe they are raving in the post-COVID world where big gatherings are no longer remembered? As you see, the show sparks a fountain of questions (which don’t really need precise answers). For the clothes, there were some surprises, like knitted body-suits: those “long Johns”, as the designers called them, are body-hugging and “a little dangerous”. There was one take-away that felt distinctly Simons and new to Prada: the bomber jacket, a garment that’s present in Simons’ solo work since the beginning of his name-sake, Antwerp-based label. Another observation: of I course loved each of Miuccia’s men collections, but in the last couple of years there was something mature about them, very grown-up. And Simons, who’s forever youth-obsessed, balances that and invites a younger customer with some signature layered knits and outerwear. Good news: not a lot of logos this time, however, expect for the metal insignias on the patch of jackets and gloves (must-haves!). Similar to the womenswear show, which was like a tabula rasa, the men’s runway line-up featured all new models who had never appeared on a catwalk before. Some of them had home-cut, boyish bangs, just like Danny Torrance, the child character from Stanley Kubrick’s cult classic, The Shining. Who knows, maybe after alll Prada and Simons had that 1980 classic on their secret moodboard. The unsettling ambience of the show, the dramatic music, the unknown destination of the models, even some elements of the peculiar space… there might be some parallels with one of the greatest horrors in history (plus, we’ve seen Raf referring spooky film classics at Calvin Klein!). Summing up: Prada and Simons are warming up, and I’m sure with every season their dialogue will unfold even more intrigue.
Although Jun Takahashi‘s autumn-winter 2019 Undecover collection was built around Stanley Kubrick’s ‘A Clockwork Orange‘ (the protagonist’s face appeared few times on duvet jackets, knits and socks, while some of the models carried matching canes), there was much, much more to the outing. Beethoven and Edgar Allan Poe appeared in the season’s main graphic, abstractly mixed with an UFO spaceship. This brings us to Jun’s friendship with Valentino’s Pierpaolo Piccioli, who used the same prints in his latest menswear offering (which was presented the same day) and labelled most of the pieces as ‘Valentino Undecover’. But wait. There was also the invitation that featured Caravaggio’s Supper at Emmaus. Some of the pieces were labelled with words (in phonetic Russian), like sabog (boot) and prestoopnik (criminal). Criminal? The feathered masks could have been some sort of dramatic, yet very chic, robber look. But the hats with a single, coloured feather? More of a muskeeter. And no, you don’t have to really comprehend all that or truly understand what’s the connection. The Japanese designer, who is known for balancing authentic streetwear with avant-garde, took us on a travel that’s above time and dimensions. The garments and accessories, from cable-knitted epaulets and sweatshirt-jumpsuits to heavy trekking boots and corduroy total looks, are heaven. And the finale, featuring only all-red looks, might have been a metaphor of hell, but the one with very good-looking demons and devils.