Sandy Liang Debuts Fall 2020 Ready-to-Wear Collection at Stuyvesant
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A line of catwalk models, sporting fashion designer Sandy Liang’s (‘09) latest collection, strode down the marble staircase to Stuyvesant’s lobby, where they were met by eager fashion enthusiasts, flashing cameras, and a string quartet playing “The Four Seasons.” Liang, recognized by The New York Times as “one of the most sought-after designers in New York,” debuted her Fall 2020 Ready-to-Wear collection on Saturday, February 9 as part of New York Fashion Week (NYFW).
Liang’s collection featured pieces ranging from anime eye print puffer jackets to pink leather blazers. “I was inspired by the ‘90s,” she said. “I’ve always been inspired by nostalgia, so actually being here is a huge moment for me. It brings back a flood of happy memories.”
Stuyvesant has always held sentimental significance for many alumni, and Liang is no exception. Even years after her graduation, Liang’s attachment to her high school experience remains prominent, as it has brought her back for her NYFW runway show. Assistant Principal of English Eric Grossman said, “Her designs are rooted in a sense of place and [...] reflect who she is and where she is from.”
Model Laura Verhelst admires Liang’s choice of venue as an expression of a more personal sense of artistry. “It’s a unique location,” she said. “I’ve never done a show in a high school, though. It’s something special.”
Liang approached Grossman with the prospect of a fashion show several weeks before the show date, who then met with the principal to relay the idea. “I talked to [Principal Eric Contreras] and said I thought that [the fashion show] would be cool because Stuyvesant likes to celebrate all of our alums and show off all of the things they do,” Grossman said. Since then, the two worked very closely with Contreras, Director of Family Engagement Dina Ingram, and Liang’s production team to organize her show.
Despite the various moving parts of hosting the fashion show, the administration and production team were able to collaborate seamlessly, due to Ingram’s prior experiences working on similar fashion shows. “After being around the business of e-commerce for many years and having held similar events at the studios still owned by Mr. Ingram, I was able to collaborate with Sandy’s production team easily and know their expectations and needs for the event,” Ingram said.
Ingram expressed her excitement for Liang’s unconventional return to Stuyvesant. “Stuyvesant has had many alumni return, mostly to do lectures and engage with our students. [...] Most recently, we had the first women of Stuyvesant event. We also had HBO do their event here,” she said. “But I don’t know if Stuyvesant has ever had a fashion show in [its] lobby before. This may [be] a first.”
The event was especially exciting—and jarring—for the student attendees. “To [the crowd], the show being hosted at a high school might just be an aesthetic choice that doesn’t really hold [much] value, [...] but to me, this is my school,” sophomore Erica Huang said. “I see it in a way that no one else does, and that was a very odd feeling.”
Junior Julia Panas agreed with this sentiment. “The diversity of the audience was, in some ways, [just as] rich as the show itself,” she said. “There were some very interesting characters in the audience, and it was cool to see everyone so high-fashioned—all together in this one room.”
For students like Panas, Liang has become an inspiration for not only her work, but also for what she represents. “Fashion, as a field of study, is not as widespread as it should be, and even looking at colleges, there are very few that offer fashion majors, which is very limiting to anyone going into that industry,” Panas said.
Liang’s career as a fashion designer and participation in NYFW serve as a testament to the variety of possibilities for Stuyvesant students despite the school’s distinction in the STEM field. “This was different for us and it really just shows that you can go into any industry. She came to an academic STEM school and then developed that interest into something else,” Ingram said.