A gyrating moose, cat, dog and other dancing plush toys welcomed guests to the Puppets & Puppets show Wednesday afternoon. And if it made the Immaculate Conception Church auditorium feel a little like a subway station, it wasn’t a coincidence.
The cute critters (some even had their own miniature P&P cookie handbags) belonged to subway saxophone player Joe Ajilo, who uses them as part of his act. He was in the house, pulled out his horn and broke into “Careless Whisper” to open the show.
“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,” said designer Carly Mark.
The answer was a creative and commercial mix of feminine and sporty clothing, with lots of relatable emotion behind it. Among the highlights: a khaki taffeta sack dress with rolled up short sleeves treated as casually as a T-shirt, and an actual T-shirt paired with khaki wide-leg pants with pannier-like deep pockets for a genius take on cargos.
Mark showed lots of strong eveningwear, from an arty draped silver sequin dress, to a black rose damask column with an unexpected spray of fringe and sequins at the waist for the woman who wants to look different from everyone in the room. New takes on her surrealist accessories included a leather banana carrier, a handbag with a giant silver spoon for a handle, and a new Keds collaboration of canvas sneakers covered in lipstick kisses.
P&P always has a frisson of freaky and this season was no different. Mark spoke backstage of how living in the city can be scary, just trying to process everything that happens in a day, which led her to send out some models gripping the hems of their dresses in their teeth. Who hasn’t felt like that?
Speaking of freaky, she also used Midjourney AI to design prints, one based on a story she spun about a boyfriend who lives in his parents’ basement in New Jersey and loves metal. The made-up boyfriend was grinning on a mesh skirt and top.
“In terms of using it as a tool, I’m not afraid of AI,” she said. “Taking over the world, we’ll see.”