A Downtown Darling Says Farewell. Does It Matter?

On Monday, Puppets and Puppets, the six-year-old New York fashion brand/art project, had its last show.

Its founder and designer, Carly Mark, had decided it was too hard and too expensive to keep making clothes and trying to build a business in this city, despite being known as “downtown N.Y. gold,” as Highsnobiety called her, and despite developing the sort of culty following that is supposed to be an indicator of success. She is pulling up stakes and moving to London, she told The New York Times last week. She will keep her more lucrative and successful handbag business going from there. But no more runway and no more clothes.

Does it matter?

Practically, probably not. Fashion history is littered with the corpses of once promising brands that never quite worked out (Miguel Adrover, anyone?), so it’s not as if this is a new story. And even though Ms. Mark was nominated for a CFDA award as emerging designer of the year, the clothes were never all that good.

They often fit weirdly or couldn’t really be called clothes, or didn’t seem entirely finished. (She has a fondness for Edie Sedgwick tights and not much else.) They seemed more like works in progress. The material could look sort of flimsy. Ms. Mark was trained as a fine artist, not a designer, and she was essentially learning in real time and in front of the world. But she was getting better.

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This season her work actually looked more like real garments than it has in the past, though sometimes only portions of real garments. A big fake fur coat turned out to be a false front; a peplos dress was entirely open on one side, save for a tiny tie at the waist. The hems of some draped jersey skirts and lacy little tops looped back up on themselves to form a veil, creating a sort of portable backdrop. That had potential, as did the holey sweats belted over lace skirts, like a corroded cocktail frock.

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