When it comes to designing during a pandemic, there are two schools of thought: either design with practicality in mind or use fashion as an escape and an excuse to dream of occasions where a tulle dress would be appropriate. For her collection, which does in fact include such a garment, Sandy Liang chose the latter. “That’s the fundamental thing they teach you in design school: You have to be aspirational, you have to design for your dream woman. And I always kind of scoffed at that,” she says. “I think that was the right thing to do when I was younger, but now it’s really important to be optimistic and to design things that don’t make sense for right now.”
That’s not to say the collection is impractical. There are plenty of classics Liang’s fans will instantly recognize: gorpcore fleeces, pleated skirts, and sweet, frilly dresses in gingham and floral. “One of my forever inspirations is after-school vibes,” Liang notes, which is evident in the sheer knee-high socks and cardigans as well. The unexpected, whimsical pieces, like a brown faux-fur tube top, make the collection come to life. “Why not?” Liang says. “I would wear that, even though it’s not the most practical thing.” The label’s first shoe, a mary jane with a pointe-shoe toe, also makes an impact, especially when styled in typical Sandy Liang fashion: that is, a melange of formality and texture that would feel just as appropriate at a bodega as at a crowded cocktail bar.