Tea or Tennis: Whatever Your Pick, Sandy Liang Serves
By Mark Wittmer
Sandy Liang has a knack for designing clothes that feel at once universally covetable and idiosyncratically individual. This season saw the designer push the envelope in terms of abstracting and reconfiguring recognizable design codes, while also seeming to have more fun with indulging her own personality than ever.
I always have a lot of relatable, easy-going pieces every season. But we had a lot more fun with exploring involved, hyper-designed things, like the quilted dresses.
Liang’s Spring 2022 collection (which, thanks to the pandemic, is only her third runway show) deconstructed two seemingly incongruous sartorial realms – sportswear from the worlds of tennis and trekking, and lacy, quilted delicacy that might be at home at a young princess’ casual tea party – and subtly melded them together to build a unique and focused vision of chic practicality.
I’m very much a gemini in the sense that I love a feminine, classically princess vibe, but I also love gorpy stuff. I love that comfortable vibe, and that’s maybe more me as a person. But when I do need to dress up I love being super girly – not literally girly or feminine, but what you might associate with that.
– Sandy Liang
Trendy tennis skirts were made even more dynamic by being reimagined as skorts, while made more feminine and flirty with a slit up the side.
Picking up from the tennis skorts, pleats also reappeared across many of the other dresses and skirts. Court-ready dresses were reconfigured with subtle layering or tulip-like wavy hems. The straight-up Salomons (they’re not a collaboration, though there could be one brewing in the future) that anchored every look further emphasized the trail-ready go-anywhere possibility of the designs.
Liang took things further into the traditionally girly with frilly quilted and eyelet dresses, blouses, and even knickers.
There were also chic jackets almost Chanel-like in their shape.
But things got most interesting when the two worlds collided on a single piece. Side-snap breakaway pants (suggesting at once sportiness and an always-ready-to-go sex appeal) were trimmed with lace. Cinched-waist trail jackets à la Arcteryx or North Face also featured lace trim, and, intriguingly, sheer bridal veils descending from their hoods. “I feel like those pieces in particular are a really good combination of sweet bridal vibes, but sporty and ready for camping,” shares the designer. It’s easy to see why.
One could reasonably accuse the stretchable, form-fitting tops printed with repeating flower logos and asymmetrical cutouts of being a bit of a Marine Serre rip, but they made sense with the post-sportswear ideas and echoed other motifs across the collection.
Some dresses felt like two different pieces vying for control of a single look; others had separate lacy and sheer segments held together with the straps we might expect to see on a trekking backpack.
It’s refreshing to hear a designer speak to her own personality and how it is gracefully instilled throughout her design principles, and take a more literal approach to the aesthetic combinations. Though primed for walking the city streets, the collection also suggests a spirit of going off the beaten path. Practical and accessible, yet not without a high-minded helping of feminine intrigue, these designs are crafted to be filled with the personality of their wearer – an approach to fashion at once self-reflective and selfless.