Puppets and Puppets FW23: Artful Horror & Body Confidence

Puppets and Puppets, initially a sculptural endeavor, has metamorphosed into a standout brand in New York’s fashion scene. In the Fall/Winter 2023 collection, designer Carly Mark delved into a vivid contrast of aesthetics, drawing inspiration from David Cronenberg’s 1988 horror film “Dead Ringers.” This choice artfully juxtaposes beauty and terror, resulting in something delightfully unconventional.

The accessories in the collection play into this dichotomy, with bags featuring telephone receiver handles, hinting at ominous themes often found in horror cinema. Mark’s affinity for science fiction and horror is apparent, lending an eerie and dark tone to the lineup.

One striking aspect of the collection was an enlarged print of a 1783 painting depicting a man’s frantic expression during a seemingly anesthesia-free operation. When this print was transformed into clothing, the gruesome details became subtle.

The designer creatively reimagined elements from previous collections, like altering the shape of hula-hoop-inspired dresses and reintroducing the egg motif. However, the overall mood of the Fall collection is optimistic and energetic, with a touch of playfulness.

Two standout pieces, a dress and suit with sheer inset corseting, achieved Mark’s goal of blending masculine and feminine. Other highlights include high-rise pants in snakeskin print, pannier-like, sequined, paisley-motif, and mini-length party dresses. Mark’s personal connection to her designs was evident in her choice of bold, body-confident garments.

Mark’s emphasis on female empowerment and control over one’s body resonated strongly within the collection, a statement further underscored by references to the myth of Pygmalion. This collection confronted the question of reality and authenticity, reflecting a more graphic and self-assured direction that resonated with the contemporary world.

Moving away from the whimsical tone of earlier seasons, Mark acknowledged the psychological impact of the Covid era, while expressing a desire to create sexy, social, and confident pieces. Some items, like black beaded bras and headpieces, seemed to pay tribute to iconic designers like Alexander McQueen and Martin Margiela, adding depth and historical relevance to the collection.

In Puppets and Puppets’ FW23 line, the interplay between artful horror and body confidence culminates in a collection that is both provocative and reflective of modern realities.

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