Usually when I’ve got plans to go to Mission Chinese Food, I don’t wear white or jeans that don’t expand when I become uncomfortably stuffed after inhaling a serving of the salt-cod fried rice; but yesterday was an exception. Debuting her FW 2018 collection, Sandy Liang, turned the haven for contemporary and exciting Chinese cuisine into an ethereal paradise. Born and raised on the Lower East Side, Sandy’s parents run Congee Village and she grew up inevitably enmeshed in the vibrant culture of her community (although in an interview with the Standard she admits that she’s only hostessed at the restaurant for two weeks). Citing that the Chinatown grandmas, with their mixed patterns, wide-legged pants and don’t give a f*ck attitude, have long since been but one source of inspiration, we begin to understand Sandy’s ethos as being rooted to the very concrete on which she walks during her quotidian. Many of her designs bear names of streets in her neighborhood, like the Bowery moto jacket lined with Jodamo pink shearling, the Delancey leather jacket embroidered with spritely flowers and the Rivington jacket which flaunts a blue crocodile front, shearling sleeves and a fuzzy-furry slate back. It is in these references that Sandy is able to continuously bring new vitality to each collection and through this expression, we are given a mirror to her ever-evolving definition of: home. She designs with what she knows and in doing so, she has established herself as a true pedlar of downtown fashion.

Showing in presentation style format, this season Sandy collaborated with 3 other artists besides Brittany Asch of Brrch Floral, Jen Monroe of Bad Taste and Helena and Fabiana Faria of Coming Soon to create what they called the “Twin Peaks Curtain,” a nod to Mission Chinese’s very own Danny Bowien, who cites the surreal drama as his favorite show. The dining room was bathed in a soft blue glow and the models lounged around a dining table bearing decadent flowers crafted by Brittany, further rousing and alluding to the ethereal nature so carefully entwined with Sandy’s realism. Crafted by Jen, jellied liquids appeared to have split across the table, along with artificial blue spaghetti and the Coming Soon team tied the concept together with a nuanced sense of creative direction and decor. The bravado of Cardi B. and Drake took to the airwaves and blue cotton candy was spun in tandem with the unfolding of the collection’s story.

There was something undeniably sunny about this collection although it was shown in the dead of winter. Imbued with the sense that no matter the season, you could dress and feel like it was Summer, Sandy’s collection transcended time and expectation. Models wore floral dresses, outerwear dipped in the hues of a pastel sorbet and delicate lace paired with silk and pleated plaid. These faces were familiar as Sandy chose close friends and members of her family to be featured in the collections latest lookbook, including her Paw Paw (her grandma) who’s got a smile bright enough to be a second sun. Even her pooch, Tim Tam, who regularly occupies the most frames on her Instagram story, made an appearance on a wool sweater. The collection invited us to share a most intimate look at Sandy’s life and is undoubtedly part of its appeal. Remarkably, Sandy is able to find freedom while still at home.

View the collection below:

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