Well before “coquette” became an everyday term in the fashion trend dictionary, Sandy Liang presented the world with clothes that embody girlhood—starting 10 years ago, to be exact. For her fall 2024 show, the New York-based designer presented a culmination of every life her eponymous label’s woman has lived—the schoolgirl, the mermaid, the princess; they’re all here.
Liang’s downtown cool girl has grown up, but not in the way that you’d think. Most will equate maturity with a departure from all things related to youth, but the Sandy Liang girl holds onto small moments of nostalgia. For Liang, that includes nods to Sailor Moon—as seen in the bedazzled star-shaped earrings and metal clutches—and prints from childhood planners. Other inspirations included paparazzi photos and catalogs in the mail, like Delia’s, which were apparent in the monochromatic tracksuits, coordinating bandanas, and rosettes.
I imagine Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy was also on Liang’s fall 2024 mood board. Ensembles consisting of tailored trousers paired with timeless V-neck and turtleneck sweaters, as well as sleek dresses with square necklines, made their way through the runway at Studio 525, tapping into the themes of ’90s minimalism. That said, there were just as many that embraced the early aughts, with standout pieces like a leather jacket with a pale-blue fur collar or a fuzzy pink miniskirt with a quarter-zip polo.
This feeling of nostalgia bled into the soundtrack, which included Madonna’s “What It Feels Like for a Girl,” Janet Jackson’s “Someone to Call My Lover,” and Peaches’ “Operate”—reminiscent of a late-’90s or early-2000s rom-com. And if the audience was any indication, that was the right vibe to have for this Sunday show.
As the show notes say, “Illusions are everywhere, on her wrist and on her collar, but she knows who she is.” And with each season, it’s obvious that the woman Liang is designing for is coming into her own. Using the analogy of a closet as a treasure chest, she creates a world of wonders, whether they be in the form of a ballerina boot or a little leather bag to hold playful tchotchkes or anything else one’s heart desires.
Though there might be a sense of fantasy with each look that comes down the runway, the designer makes one thing certain: These clothes are meant to be lived in, and meant to gain experiences—all while keeping a bit of the past that has made you who you are today. And for Sandy Liang, that past is filled with a little bit of magic.
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