There was a time not so long ago when Carly Mark’s Puppets & Puppets might have seemed more like an art project than a fashion brand. Mark is, after all, one of New York’s most well-known mixed media artists. But over the course of this pandemic year, she has recalibrated her fashion work, turning it into a true business. A new production manager was brought on and factories in Italy were contracted, as were knitting artisans in Bolivia and Peru. Mark is charting a course in which Puppets & Puppets is just as much a clothing company as a creative expression.
She’s found a nice balance in her spring 2021 collection. Her historically minded bustles, panniers, and corsetry remain, only now there is boning interfaced into the garments to make them easier to put on and wear. Denim in a medium wash straight leg style is new, and there is an expansive knitwear program that brings together artists in New York and South America over pomegranate sweaters, logo intarsias, and azure maxi-dresses. The knits will be part of Mark’s first e-commerce launch this spring, which she hopes will help get Puppets & Puppets onto the backs of even more of her friends and community.
Many of those people star in the brand’s lookbook, cast by Anita Bitton. There’s Richie Shazam in a stunning black suit with a just-so curved sleeve; “we will always have a suit,” Mark assures, “it’s one of my favorite things to wear.” Jane Moseley poses in a crinoline skirt made of sunny florals, and even the stylist Patti Wilson, a longtime supporter of the label, takes a turn in card-print suiting and a patchwork dress. That’s the ultimate goal of Mark’s expansion project: to ensure that her community and collaborators can continue to be a part of her world.