Meet the New Faces of the American Wave of Grunge Designers

Mixed-media artist Carly Mark and designer Ayla Argentina, the duo behind the new label Puppets and Puppets, just had an unusually busy and exciting week. Showing for the first time at NYFW, it was also their debut runway and their first ever joint collection as designers. You’d expect a certain tension, some nervousness, and possibly a bit of drama considering the circumstances, and yet the overall mood in the room – before, during, and especially after the show – could not have been more relaxed, joyous and festive.



Carly Mark and Ayla Argentina at the Puppets and Puppets Fall/Winter 2019 show in New York. Photo: Mitchell Sams / Courtesy of PR.


Off the beaten path of NYFW's traditional venues, the show was hosted in a double parlor inside the Peterson House, a townhouse in Greenwich Village's Historic District with incredibly high ceilings and wooden floors. Interestingly, the building is also home of the Center for Modern Psychoanalytic Studies, a humorous coincidence which I imagine became a repeated point of playful observation among those attending and organizing the event. It's the kind of observation that a close group of friends would end up turning into an inside joke, something that felt quite possible among the people present given the vibe of intimacy and complicity that permeated the room.

 

Mark, who has exhibited her art work at Frieze and Armory, began working with FIT graduate Argentina in 2016. Soon after, they began discussing the possibility of designing clothes and this evolved into the collaborative fashion venture Puppets and Puppets, which was named after Mark’s Chihuahua. Driven by non-traditional styling and sculptural construction, the duo, which aims to merge utility and fantasy into a cohesive vision, is already being affiliated with a contemporary wave of American grunge designers led by the likes of Vaquera, Eckhaus Latta, and Telfar. On the runway, this translated to a collection that oscillated between clothing – mostly composed of a few cut-and-sew pieces, a hoodie, and some vintage shirts featuring the brand’s logo in rhinestones – and costume, in the literal sense of the word. All of this added up to a unique and theatrical aesthetic. Some looks, by way of capes, specific prints or certain color palettes, also contributed a poetical and candid quality to the moment. By times, as the models slowly walked across the room to the live performance of cellist and composer Patrick Belaga, I would temporarily forget I was at a "fashion show." Instead, I felt like I was observing characters from a play.


The Puppets and Puppets show felt more like a family affair – where the majority of guests, including members of the designers’ families, were in attendance because they were emphatically interested and eager to support – than it did an event one attends to be seen, to mingle with vested interest, or to grab a free giveaway from the front row. As we waited for the show to begin, the likes of curator and writer Vere van Gool; photographer Logan Jackson; and models Paloma Elsesser, Ali Michael, and Hayett McCarthy were, like many others, engrossed in their respective lively conversations. Meanwhile, artist Chloe Wise, who had been trusted to document the event live on the brand's Instagram, walked around the room randomly interviewing people (although when I walked in, she was holding a microphone to designer Niki Takesh's puppy). In short, much like the collection they presented, the setting was an unexpected breath of fresh air – a welcome NYFW palette cleanser if you will.


Mark and Argentina kindly took some time after the show to chat with us about their disdain for fast fashion, why they chose to step into the world of fashion, and how art informs their work.



Puppets and Puppets Fall/Winter 2019 show in New York. Photos: Mitchell Sams / Courtesy of PR.


This is your 1st time at NYFW. What motivated you to show?

 

I've been involved in the art world the past few years. Ayla went to school for garment construction. We were making garments for my sculptures together and it felt very much like styling. We decided to take the leap after last fashion week. We're looking forward to season two.

 

Does your background as an artist inform how you envisioned or presented the show?

 

Yes, the collection is very sculptural; the shoes are all handmade resin platforms. The production felt similar to installing a gallery show.

 

Was there a specific eureka moment when you two decided on moving into making clothes, or was it more of conversation through time?

 

We've discussed moving into fashion many times over the past few years. It was last fashion week though that really put us into motion. New York fashion is really exciting right now. Telfar, Lou Dallas, Vaquera – the clothes feel like progress.


Tell us a bit more about the collection and the universe that you created this evening.

 

The playfulness of the collection was in its ability to combine many contrasting elements: textures, patterns, aesthetics, and ideas. We wanted to project that theme onto the space as well. We liked playing with these sterile corporate carpet swatches and arranging them to mimic and clash with some of the fabrics in the show. The music was the unifying force in that it was both traditional and experimental.

 


Puppets and Puppets Fall/Winter 2019 show in New York. Photos: Mitchell Sams / Courtesy of PR.


If you had to pick a single look that crystallizes the collection, which one would it be and why?

 

It would be Liz Ord's look – the faux fur leopard coat, maple leaf skirt, Christmas grid halter, and neon tights. The evolution of various classic silhouettes with contemporary fabrics.

 

There was an element of fantasy in the collection; can you tell me a bit about how that weaves into your design?

 

Fantasy is pretty all-encompassing in fashion. A fashion show is a fantasy. The fantasy genre is a blank slate where characters are free from reality and its norms. I think that creative freedom is why, specifically in costuming, there is such an inspiring rich visual and conceptual imagination.

 

We are part of a generation that is experiencing the backlash of consumerism and excess. Is that something you consider as designers?

 

Yes, a lot of our fabrics were salvaged, taken from vintage curtains, t-shirts, etc. All of the shoes are pre-owned and worn. Sustainability should be at the top of everyone’s list right now.

 

Ideally, where will your customer find Puppets and Puppets?

 

Puppets and Puppets can function in a gallery space or a store. Fashion and art are inter-sectional.


Many of the looks felt like moving art pieces; was a sculptural design approach intended?

 

It's how our brains work, given the years of art making we've done together in my studio. We wanted to construct things that move with a body, can be worn over and over, but with a sculptural structure.

 


Puppets and Puppets Fall/Winter 2019 show in New York. Photos: Mitchell Sams / Courtesy of PR.


Being an artist tends to involve being hands on, experimenting with mediums, and a freedom of expression which are not necessarily prevalent in fashion these days. As artists, why did you decide to dive into the fashion world?

We both have a disdain for fast fashion, given the times, what's going on in the world. We wanted to execute something handmade and considered. We want a Puppets and Puppets coat to still be hanging in your closet 10 years from now, not discarded after a season or two.


SHARE
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
SIMILAR ARTICLES
Shanghai: Tech and Tribal Culture
By Jing Zhang
In a swish of Balenciaga jumpers, Gucci tees, and doll-like Chinese KOLs live streaming to their...
By Jing Zhang
In a swish of Balenciaga jumpers, Gucci tees, and doll-like Chinese KOLs live streaming to their fans on their phones, Shanghai Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2020 is coming to a close. It was a week of sunshine, rainstorms, and blustering winds, as buyers, media, and fashionistas traversed between...
In a swish of Balenciaga jumpers, Gucci tees, and doll-like Chinese KOLs live streaming to their fans on their phones, Shanghai Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2020 is coming to a close. It was a week of sunshine, rainstorms, and blustering winds, as buyers, media, and fashionistas traversed between Xintiandi (home to shows on the main official schedule) and the Labelhood runway platform – this time...
How Shanghai Could Change Fashion
By Gianluca Cantaro
When you are in Shanghai, the only thing you need to worry about is always keeping your phone...
By Gianluca Cantaro
By Gianluca Cantaro
When you are in Shanghai, the only thing you need to worry about is always keeping your phone charged and connected – as everything passes through these devices, and without it you are lost. Cash no longer circulates; the QR code pays everything. This, of course, offers more control on...
When you are in Shanghai, the only thing you need to worry about is always keeping your phone charged and connected – as everything passes through these devices, and without it you are lost. Cash no longer circulates; the QR code pays everything. This, of course, offers more control on transactions and, I guess, fewer tax evasion problems (at least for shopping). This is one aspect of the...
Lindbergh Film to Premiere in Milan
By Sofia Celeste
Milan’s Fashion Film Festival will unveil “Peter Lindbergh: Women’s Stories” at Milan’s Anteo...
By Sofia Celeste
Milan’s Fashion Film Festival will unveil “Peter Lindbergh: Women’s Stories” at Milan’s Anteo Cinema on November 10th.“Engaging and intimate, this film depicts the German photographer and features Naomi Campbell, [his wife] Astrid Lindbergh, and Helga Polzin,” organizers said Tuesday.The...
Milan’s Fashion Film Festival will unveil “Peter Lindbergh: Women’s Stories” at Milan’s Anteo Cinema on November 10th.“Engaging and intimate, this film depicts the German photographer and features Naomi Campbell, [his wife] Astrid Lindbergh, and Helga Polzin,” organizers said Tuesday.The Lindbergh documentary was directed by Jean-Michel Vecchiet, who also depicted the life of Jean-Michel...
Sophia Kokosalaki Dies
By Jessica Bumpus
The Greek fashion designer Sophia Kokosalaki has died. News of the London-based designer’s death...
By Jessica Bumpus
By Jessica Bumpus
The Greek fashion designer Sophia Kokosalaki has died. News of the London-based designer’s death was reported by the culture minister for Greece, Lina Mendoni, on Monday."It is extremely sad when a young person dies, a creative spirit, a dynamic and self-made woman who starred in the harsh and...
The Greek fashion designer Sophia Kokosalaki has died. News of the London-based designer’s death was reported by the culture minister for Greece, Lina Mendoni, on Monday."It is extremely sad when a young person dies, a creative spirit, a dynamic and self-made woman who starred in the harsh and competitive world of international fashion for a 20-year period," she said Kokosalaki, who had dressed...
Decoding Fashion's 2.0 Buying Trends
By Anissa Draa
In an ever-changing digital age and saturated luxury industry, modern-day customers who shop for...
By Anissa Draa
In an ever-changing digital age and saturated luxury industry, modern-day customers who shop for designer clothes and accessories – both on- and offline – are constantly on the look-out for authenticity and want to be engaged in new, unique ways. Anissa Draa, e-buyer at French department store...
In an ever-changing digital age and saturated luxury industry, modern-day customers who shop for designer clothes and accessories – both on- and offline – are constantly on the look-out for authenticity and want to be engaged in new, unique ways. Anissa Draa, e-buyer at French department store Printemps, discusses the status quo of fashion buying and its challenges and what it takes to perfect...
Beauty Built on AI
By Sofia Celeste
Interview with Cherry Pick’s Justin Stewart Now that the first artificial intelligence-engineered...
By Sofia Celeste
By Sofia Celeste
Interview with Cherry Pick’s Justin Stewart Now that the first artificial intelligence-engineered fashion collections are already on the market, there is no better time than the present for the beauty industry to dive in head first. Yoox, Amazon, Alibaba, and fast fashion retailers like H&M and...
Interview with Cherry Pick’s Justin Stewart Now that the first artificial intelligence-engineered fashion collections are already on the market, there is no better time than the present for the beauty industry to dive in head first. Yoox, Amazon, Alibaba, and fast fashion retailers like H&M and Zara have all invested heavily in artificial intelligence, an innovation that has been at the core of...
American Shoppers Stimulate EU Retail
By NOWFASHION
The latest edition of the Planet Shopper Index (PSI) – a quarterly rundown of the top 25 most...
By NOWFASHION
The latest edition of the Planet Shopper Index (PSI) – a quarterly rundown of the top 25 most lucrative source markets for European retailers – reveals that international shopper activity across Europe accelerated in the second quarter of the year, mainly driven by US shopper activity and a...
The latest edition of the Planet Shopper Index (PSI) – a quarterly rundown of the top 25 most lucrative source markets for European retailers – reveals that international shopper activity across Europe accelerated in the second quarter of the year, mainly driven by US shopper activity and a bounce-back of visiting nations’ currencies against the pound and euro.  In fact, a strengthened dollar...
Shanghai FW Kicks Off
By Jing Zhang
Outside of the four major fashion weeks, Shanghai has emerged as one of the most important...
By Jing Zhang
By Jing Zhang
Outside of the four major fashion weeks, Shanghai has emerged as one of the most important fashion hubs in the East. Though the country’s most established names like Masha Ma and Uma Wang prefer to show in Europe, Shanghai Fashion Week provides a platform for young, independent labels such as...
Outside of the four major fashion weeks, Shanghai has emerged as one of the most important fashion hubs in the East. Though the country’s most established names like Masha Ma and Uma Wang prefer to show in Europe, Shanghai Fashion Week provides a platform for young, independent labels such as Xuzhi, Oude Wang, and Shushu/Tong. It's also an occasion for foreign journalists and buyers to discover...