Puppets and Puppets, Subcultural Baroque, and the Resurgence of the Tiny Dog

Richie Shazam via Instagram

Sandy Liang Fall 2020 via Vogue Runway

Precious Okoyomon by Lia Clay Miller via The Cut

Are little dogs the new tiny purse? It certainly seemed that way during New York Fashion Week this February. Long associated with aristocracy and the leisure class, the little dog’s resurgence is significant at the end of a decade marked by horrific income inequality. This type of animal-as-accessory may signal that a person is unbothered by the continued financial tragedies of our era, or at least uninterested in being defined by them. In an atmosphere so burdened with issues of overwork and debt, the little dog is a reclamation of comfort and frivolity— an assertion of Fashion with a capital F.

Princess Ekaterina Dmitrievna  Golitsyna by Louis-Michel van Loo

Paris Hilton via Us Weekly

A sense of joy permeated even the most socially conscious shows this season. In a stunning display of 2000s Emo-Icon meets 2020s Art-Kid Vanguard, Paramore’s Hayley Williams performed at Collina Strada’s show. I’d like to see this motif developed: Couldn’t Eckhaus Latta have benefitted from a performance by Pete Wentz? Wouldn’t I have died to see Gerard Way sing at Sandy Liang?

Instead, a singer of a different sort could be heard at Puppets and Puppets, via a recording from 1904: Alessandro Moreschi, one of civilization’s last castrati. His version of “Ave Maria” is eerie and heartbreaking, marked by strange cracks in the voice and phrasing intended to be heard in places of worship. It brought to mind the visual universe of 1994’s Farinelli, a film about the greatest castrato of all time.

Stefano Dionisi as Farinelli via filmmovement.com

A taste for the Baroque seems to be common among emerging designers and stylists. More than a trend, it’s on its way to becoming a subculture. This can be seen in the creations of Lou Dallas and Women’s History Museum and in the personal style of Zoe Bleu Sidel.

Women’s History Museum’s @svetlanamotive

A variety of historical periods was referenced at the Puppets and Puppets show, including the medieval. Coco Campbell wore a hennin— the cone-shaped headdress typical of nobility— paired with a power suit. Glaring at the cameras as she stalked down the aisle, she resembled an imperious She-EO, an almost sinister emblem of femme-powerment.

Coco Campbell at Puppets and Puppets via Vogue Runway

In my favorite look of the evening, Laine Bolte appeared wearing a periwinkle spandex space hood with a sheer ruffle and tiffany blue moiré horns. The whimsy of the outfit was offset by her incredibly beautiful face and serene walk.

Laine Bolte at Puppets and Puppets via Vogue Runway

It’s clear that Carly Mark and Ayla Argentina of Puppets and Puppets are some of the city’s most exciting new designers. No matter how apocalyptic this moment might seem— no matter how much others invoke dystopia— there’s a core of young creatives who won’t allow their joy to be taken away.