Carly Mark is currently busier than she’s ever been and loving every minute of it.
“I’ve always been a hard worker but this is more work than I’ve ever experienced, which I really like,” Mark said. “I like working in that place where you just don’t have time to do anything else. We’re two months to the show and I’m still having dreams about how to execute the runway show, where to have it...it’s very high energy.”
Mark is currently working on season two of her fashion line, Puppets and Puppets, which has an origin story as interesting as the line itself.
Mark – who is also a fine artist – had been working on garments for sculptures with Ayla Argentina. Then, about six months before February’s New York Fashion Week, they created custom pieces for a magazine cover shoot for talent who was supposed to wear them.
Last minute, the talent pulled out.
“When the talent pulled out, we were like, ok, what do we do with these garments?” said Mark, who attended Cranbrook from sixth through 12th grade. “Let’s just go ahead and make an entire collection.”
So they did – leading to a show during February’s NYFW.
Up until then, Mark had been focused on sculpture and video work, although she noted at heart, she’s a painter. Painting was also a departing point for her art, especially her series focused on Haribo Gold Bears, which featured a video with comedian Eric Wareheim.
“I work with any medium to get the point across,” said Mark, who also likes to provoke a little with her pieces, especially her sculptural works.
But after creating the first fashion line, she and Argentina realized they enjoyed the pace and structure of it, and decided to go all-in on Puppets and Puppets, named after Mark’s chihuahua.
“We always say it’s his brand, not ours,” she laughed.
Much like her previous works, her clothes are quite eclectic, full of patterns and colors, and they aren’t afraid to mix and match. Puppets and Puppets also focuses on sustainable design, an important aspect for her and Argentina.
Mark said their second line is a bit more decadent – and features a more focused palette – than last season, but is still dedicated to sustainability. They often repurpose or give new life to vintage materials they find.
“People have called the clothing whimsical. This will still be in that realm,” Mark said. “It’s going to be really fun, a bit funky. It’s very us, but it’s going to be like a level up. We really hope to surprise people.”
It won’t surprise people to know she’s creating clothes, though. Mark said she’s been interested in fashion since a very young age. Her mom would find her drawing dresses in her room. When she originally came to New York, she had thought about going directly into the business – she had a few fashion internships – but found it too corporate. Now, she says, there is more room for young designers to turn the fashion world upside down with more of a focus on sustainability.
Out of everything she’s created, Mark said the clothing line is probably what she’s most proud of. She plans to stay in fashion for a while now.
“It’s like you’re making objects. You’re making things that are sculptural, you’re making things that exist on a body...then you’re putting it into motion when you organize the runway shows,” she explained. “To me, the fashion stuff is all-encompassing and I really love that.”