Puppets and Puppets Serves Up Joyfully Demented Fashion

By
Photography Richie Shazam
Stylist Lana Jay Lackey

Published April 23, 2020

 

All Clothing and Accessories by Puppets and Puppets.

New York needed Puppets and Puppets. Critics have been arguing that America’s fashion capital has lost some of its luster, but out of the ennui has emerged something truly special—and weird. The New York-based label was conceived by the artist Carly Mark and the designer Ayla Argentina, who joined forces after realizing their chosen industries were more concerned with preserving the status quo than up-ending it. “Neither of us likes to be boxed in and whenever someone tries to put us in a box, we usually turn into gremlin contrarians and we go the opposite direction,” says Mark, who was a gifted artist struggling to carve out a place for herself (Argentina once worked as her studio assistant). “Our whole thing is that we try not to define what we do.”

We’ll try for them. What they do is create boundless designs that straddle the surreal while retaining a wearability. Their Fall/Winter 2019 collection, which was their debut, was staged in an ornate West Village townhouse and drew a cool downtown crowd.  Later collections incorporated resin motifs, egg-heeled shoes (S/S 2020), dangly popcorn earrings (F/W 2020), and were shown at the Prince George Ballroom. “We’ve always been inspired by designers who embraced theatrics,” says Argentina. “We loved all the original Jean Paul Gaultier shows, the Dior shows from the ’90s and 2000s. We want to bring that back.”

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“Here’s what’s so exciting about making clothes,” says Mark. “You put them on a body, you style them, you do the hair, you do the makeup, and all of a sudden that person walks down a runway and the clothes transcend fabric. And then you put them on a different model and everything changes again. It’s fluid, and we really love that.”

“New York has been thirsty for some razzle-dazzle,” says Argentina. “Like Carly said, we’re very contrarian, especially when people try to figure out who we are or what we are. Why try to define us as just one thing when we’re just really trying to break from what New York fashion has become, which is too commercial.”

Malik.

“Puppet is actually the name of Carly’s chihuahua,” says Argentina. “I always thought it was funny. It sort of sounds like a law firm, like Cellino & Barnes. We’re like, ‘We’re Puppets and Puppets. Here to solve your fashion needs.’”