A Rising Star in Fashion Who Sees No Future in New York

On a phone call in October, Carly Mark raised the idea for the first time: She needed to leave New York.

There comes a moment in every creative New Yorker’s life when this may happen — when the city that once seemed as if it pulsed just for you now seems as if it is pushing you out, like an organ transplant gone wrong.

But there was more: Ms. Mark said she could no longer sell clothes.

This was and wasn’t surprising. A few weeks earlier, in September, Ms. Mark held a runway show for her five-year-old fashion brand, Puppets and Puppets. The show was well-received. Vogue called it a “conflation of Cristóbal Balenciaga and mall rats” that hit “right on the mark.” Women’s Wear Daily praised its “strong evening wear” and its balance between “creative and commercial” — something critics say when they think a collection could sell well in stores, despite being a little strange.

Puppets and Puppets may not be widely known, but Ms. Mark can draw an audience: celebrities with grit, writers with money, artists with modeling gigs. Last February, she lined her runway with sculptures of dirty dishes and food strewed across books; in September, she borrowed robotic dancing cats from a subway performer. (She encountered him after attending a Limp Bizkit concert at Madison Square Garden.) The installations tangoed with the clothes: elegant and screwy, sexy and goth, coated in cinematic references.

Her leather bags have been particularly successful, with 3-D chocolate chip cookies, roses, fried eggs or spiders plopped in place of a designer logo.

Clockwise from top left: Is it cake? Yes, but it looks like a Puppets and Puppets cookie bag, backstage at the fall 2023 show. That collection was influenced by David Cronenberg’s “Dead Ringers.” The artist Quori Theodor installs a spaghetti and lettuce sculpture. Ms. Mark, left, chats with guests at the spring 2024 show.Credit…Daniel Arnold

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