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  • Writer's pictureSavannah Bradley

At Puppets and Puppets, Ugly Returns

But I don't think we can blame it all on AI.


Gyrating moose and cats and dogs oh my, yes, it’s Puppets and Puppets. Little animatronic critters flanked the halls of the Immaculate Conception Church auditorium on Wednesday afternoon, the belongings of NYC subway saxophonist Joe Ajilo. That jazzy knowingness was a prelude to the commercial-yet-eccentric P&P show — a recurring brand theme almost every season.

In a statement to WWD, Puppets and Puppets designer Carly Mark stated: “It’s a lot about me and being a woman in New York. The saxophone player with all these little animals I see when I’m doing my commute from my house to the office. And I think about what would I want to wear while I’m doing that commute.”

Begetting what Peter Do did for Helmut Lang — a love letter to New York — there is a sporty sweetness to the collection, almost high ‘80s, with lamé detailing, muscle sleeves, and poxes of athletic green. The highlights are clear: pannier pockets on a thick cargo pant; a red satin ribbon held in the mouth; little black dresses, billowy, whipped by the wind.

But those highlights are scant. There are good ideas, here — a long-sleeved, collaged sheath dress, a Gilded Age leg-of-mutton sleeve, a ruched gown printed with scenes from the Unicorn Tapestries — but they all jut against one another, ill-defined, unable to be tethered. The athleticism supplants the medieval fancy; the silver glitter dresses supplant the polo shirts and cargo pants; the sleeveless tanks supplant the fringe. It would be one thing if there was a recognizable undercurrent through these aesthetics — a color, a fabric, a silhouette — but if there is one, it’s invisible.

Part of this disassociation may be due to Mark’s use of Midjourney AI to design prints for the collection. “In terms of using it as a tool, I’m not afraid of AI,” she said to WWD. “Taking over the world, we’ll see.”

All I know is this: if a robot is designing a dress, it’s not doing a very good job so far. 🌀


You can view the whole collection here.


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