Carly Mark’s latest designs feature resin carrots, life-size bat necklaces, and a tap dance performance

Puppets and Puppets held its Fall/Winter 2022 runway show at the Ukrainian National Home—a metal-clad structure, ornamented with blocky Cyrillic script, sandwiched between Veselka and an omakase place. The building is a bit of a neighborhood oddity, with its postmodernist aura and curious past, having housed the Stuyvesant Casino, a German YMCA, countless punk concerts, and the Ukrainian East Village Restaurant since its construction in the 1830s.

It was the perfect venue for Puppets and Puppets—the newish New York label built around a certain reputation for quirkiness. Carly Mark began her independent brand as more of an artistic, absurdist exercise in design: It’s named after the her chihuahua-terrier mix, for instance, and has shown off egg-carton platform loafers and Wisconsin cheesehead-esque hats on the runway. Lately, the label has been catering more towards the everyday luxury consumer. “Because I was a fine artist, I wasn’t sure this lane would be where I was happy,” said Mark to WWD. “I’ve found this comfortable way of straddling artfulness and business.” That’s to say—despite the label’s evolution—Puppets and Puppets hasn’t lost its penchant for eccentricity.

Sunday’s presentation was soundtrack-free, save for a beat provided by Cartier Williams, a tap dancer who was positioned on a raised platform adjacent to the runway. The surreal qualities of the garments were there, without a doubt, but they were distilled down to the details: One bag was decorated with resin carrots, and one was shaped like a water pitcher. There was a life-sized, wooden bat necklace. Mark emerged after the show wearing a shiny leotard and high-cut jean shorts.

In general, the designs enjoyed a new kind of functionality. Models donned dark trench coats you could wear anywhere, and blouses with sculptural, puffed sleeves. The knitwear was exceptional, manifesting in asymmetrical dresses and sweaters that clung in the right places. The trousers were sometimes dark, sometimes plaid, sometimes a mixture of the two—regardless, they tended toward the oversized, well-constructed, and utilitarian.

If anything, Puppets and Puppets’ latest presentation was a testament to the constructive evolution of the brand. It’s found its balance—now’s the time to run with it.

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