Sandy Liang Ready-To-Wear Resort 2020

What do Polly Pocket, The Virgin Suicides, and stick-on earrings have in common? According to designer Sandy Liang, a lot. To her, they each represent various moments of her upbringing: the precious, girly toys she played with, the fake jewelry she experimented with, and the Chinatown grannies she bonded with, most of whom dressed in floral-wallpaper-print dresses similar to those worn by the girls in Sofia Coppola’s 1999 film depicting gorgeous, depressed teens trapped in suburbia. After reminiscing fondly about this time in her life, Liang decided to pay homage to all the bits and pieces that made her early youth so sweet. She channeled it all into her Resort 2020 collection, which is one of her strongest to date. Liang shot the clothes on her childhood block in Bayside, Queens, a strip of concrete and lawn that she calls her “happy place.”

The clothes she presented today felt childlike but not twee, and because Liang knows how to be playful with her designs without falling into the trap of kitsch, she succeeded in making the familiar look desirable again. Take, for example, a baby doll dress in a metallic silver foil fabric, or a pair of early 2000s-style capri jeans with crystal studs linking the pockets. Liang said with a wide smile that these reminded her of the ultra short, tightly fitting denim she used to scoop up at Old Navy as a kid. The baby tee dress in bubblegum pink, embroidered with heart, moon, and star motifs shaped like her favorite plastic stick-on earrings, was also a sly blast from the past. Liang’s use of balloon sleeves and mini hemlines befit a Millennial-aged Polly Pocket 2.0, as did the fuzzy faux-fur-trimmed cropped jacket and trench.

With no detail spared this season, the designer also incorporated a soft floral print that she spotted in a film still from The Virgin Suicides. It was the wallpaper in the girls’ bedroom, and she blew it up and incorporated it into those reinvigorated Chinatown granny frocks. Liang’s clothes tend to have a personal bend to them, whether it’s channeled through one or more of her friends-slash-muses, or through her heritage. But Resort 2020 was all her, and it paid off.