Welcome to The Runway Recap, Marie Claire editors’ daily rundown of the best and most closet-worthy collections we’re seeing at fashion month.
A Sandy Liang show can be spotted from a mile away. For the first collection of her tenth anniversary year, held on day three of New York Fashion Week, the crowd of editors, stylists, and friends of the brand dressed with more devotion to her hyperfeminine aesthetic than ever. Outside the venue, a circle of women huddled together in shades of deep red and blush pink. Inside, next to a runway curtain held open by giant silver ribbons, several attendees coordinated with the set in bows of their own: Bows were clipped into their hair, pinned onto their cardigans, and wrapped around their waists.
Girlhood motifs—rosettes, shades of pink, all those ribbons—undoubtedly rule Sandy Liang’s contemporary identity, but the New York-based label has gone through many thematic evolutions since its inception in 2014. Throughout her collections, Liang has experimented with a range of designs from fur-trimmed leather outerwear to crushed velvet biker shorts, and most notably, leopard-print fleece jackets that went absolutely viral in 2019.
This season, Liang tried bringing a mature perspective to the 'girlhood' conversation. “The collection is an ode to wearing your clothes, to growing up a little without sacrificing what you love,” Liang’s show notes read. She drew inspiration from the whimsical idea of a schoolgirl who grows up to be a princess, exploring what the art of playing into fairytales as an adult could look like along the way.
The show began with a rosette-adorned tracksuit layered above a button-down, followed by a number of prep-meets minimalism outfits: creamy sweaters over coordinating trousers, button-downs layered under matching cotton sets. Then, the princess iconography emerged: a bubblegum pink dress covered in bows; a variety of delicate micro top-handle purses, primly held by the models with two hands; a floral printed pastel top.
But Liang’s version of a princess wasn't all flowers, ribbons, and crowns (though some guests even wore tiaras). A beige teddy coat, a micro mini leather skirt, and a fiery red set also appeared on the runway.
As I watched Liang’s designs pass by, for a brief moment, I escaped the grungy world of Manhattan and entered into a fairytale that fostered pure joy. Her collection flourished at the intersection of playful and practical, ideal for a mid-twentysomething who isn't ready for fashion to stop being a fantasy just yet. I can't wear a tiara or all-over ribbons to the office—but I can try a pink satin suit jacket or a blouse decorated with Peter Pan collars.
If I felt such a way just looking at Liang’s pieces, I could only imagine how I would feel wearing them. I wanted to stay in that room and soak up all the ethereal energy that her clothes made me feel. I didn’t want to leave. But alas, the clock struck 2 PM, and it was time to go.
Back in reality after the show, debriefing the collection over coffee with two fellow editors, I realized two things. One, Sandy Liang showed us that a closet worthy collection is one that makes you experience a feeling. And two, although our girlhood years are behind us, that doesn’t mean we can’t play the part of a princess.
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Lauren K. Tappan is the Fashion Editor at Marie Claire, where she writes engaging stories ranging from shopping pieces to trend reports. Prior to Marie Claire, Lauren covered fashion and beauty for Harper’s Bazaar and ELLE as a freelance editor, with a specific focus on e-commerce. She also held editorial roles at Town & Country, Into The Gloss, and Philadelphia Style Magazine. Lauren earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications, with a minor in Journalism, from the University of Pennsylvania. Follow her along at @laurenktappan.
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