Prairie Dress on Ice. Batsheva AW20

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There’s no street style in New York without the Batsheva dress. Batsheva Hay‘s prairie look has trickled down to other, local brands’ repertoire, which just reassures her success. The designer expands, trying out new things. The autumn-winter 2020 collection  had no runway, but a look-book featuring… figure skaters. Batsheva and her husband, Alexei, had conspired to shoot this collection guerrilla style in the American Dream mall, and stumbled upon a figure skating competition on the day they went to scout locations. “Part of what I’m always trying to prove is the wearability of my clothes,” she said, “and athletic movement is the definitive wearability test.” The skaters spin, twirl and jump in Hay’s chiffons, cottons, and custom flower pot embroideries, frozen mid-gesture by the camera. It’s intentionally not glamorous (and definitely not Tonya Harding) and the styling is kooky in its spontaneous way. For the season, the designer brings in evening-worthy sparkles, vintage flocked wool trenches and a red bustier “going out” top. It’s proper hot. For prairie girls not ready to give up their pastoral vibes, Hay offers ruffle V-front dresses and smocks, as well as velvet leopard with a wider, less Victorian neckline – this one is my personal favourite. Sounds (and looks) like lots of fun.

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Signatures. Batsheva Pre-Fall 2020

The Batsheva dress: high-neck, nipped waist, ruffle sleeve, full skirt. That distinct silhouette made designer Batsheva Hay‘s brand become one of New York’s biggest favourites. And even though season goes, this dress – often made from ornate, vintage textiles – doesn’t get boring. Still, now Batsheva has to move on creatively. And looking at her pre-fall 2020, she thrives. Meet the smock frock, which works as a housecoat in velveteen leopard and crimson moiré. “That’s how I want to dress now,” Hay says. And what Hay wants remains the backbone of Batsheva. New, over-sized shapes and menswear-ish separates (like a Western shirt) make debuts. Hay’s choice of fabrics – a mix of quilting materials and unlikely fashion candidates like burnout velvets and suit linings – keeps a consistency between her circle skirts and more structured day dresses. Get the Batsheva look.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

The Law of Batsheva. Batsheva SS20

Within just a couple of seasons, a Batsheva dress became a classic in New York. No wonder why: her signature prairie dresses, often made out of vintage textiles, are comfortable, flattering and the wearer never really has to think how to wear it: they work with everything. Batshave Hay‘s spring-summer 2020 show at the New York Law School (fun fact: before starting her label at home, Batsheva was a lawyer) was an actual lecture. Jamieson Webster (a psychoanalyst), Chiara Bottici (a philosopher) and Melissa Ragona (an art historian and theorist), three academics in three diverse fields, engaged critically with Batsheva’s newest collection, while models walked through a lecture hall. Writer and podcaster Aminatou Sow introduced and moderated the panel. “They make me feel like a pioneer woman who can’t be fucked with,” Sow said of Batsheva’s garments. The lecture was called “Neck, Wrist, and Ankle: Recurrence in Batsheva’s Clothing” and each speaker presented her essay accompanied by a PowerPoint presentation of pertinent details and helpful quotes. Hay’s panel of critics laid out lots of excellent points, including a description of her clothing as “defense of the tender areas of the body”. Fashion being intellectual is a rare, but great sight. Especially, when the clothes keep up with the theory. The prairie dress was present in the line-up for a few times, in tiny florals, polka-dots and print patchwork, but there were also some new additions: blazers with big, Victorian shoulders (speaking of the Victorian topic, the ‘Victorian Secret’ pun on the finale dress was brilliant, by the way), a ruffled day dress in a red zebra pattern and gorgeous shoes made in collaboration with Brother Vellies.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

So Batsheva. Batsheva Resort 2020

Batsheva is the fashion brand on everybody’s lips in New York. And not only. Her signature prairie dress has already left a mark on fashion, seeing very, very similar silhouettes at other brands (like at the just launched, first capsule collection from The Marc Jacobs). But Batsheva Hay seems to be unbothered. Her loyal clients will buy the original idea at its source. And her resort 2020 lookbook doesn’t just sell the clothes. It sells a fresh view at fashion, which is more of an outsider’s perspective. Here, Batsheva herself is the model, and her photographer husband, Alexei, takes the photos. They ran around Manhattan shooting the collection quite spontaneously, in their favorite places together. No makeup. No stylists. Just a married couple marking some of their most cherished spots in the city where both grew up. So, what do we have? Of course, the prairie dress, in new colours, lenghts and prints. We also have Victorian blouses and a gorgeous, voluminous skirts in gingham. One of the dresses with a turtleneck was sewn from a sourced, U.S.A. flag. Flared pants in leopard print, styled with a matching dress, look hot. With every season, the designer makes you want to come back for more of her clothes, her kind of ‘basics’, that are quintessentialy… Batsheva.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki. Photos by Alexei Hay.

The Dress. Batsheva AW19

Batsheva Hay’s dresses are unmissable. Sewn from vintage fabrics, kept in retro patterns, with a distinct prairie-style ruffle-trimmed detail – you just know it’s a Batsheva. And this fantastic story of a dress could happen only in New York. Hay turned from a lawyer to fashion designer, quite suddenly, when she decided to do a few dresses for herself and her friends. The silhouette was so good that more friends wanted it, then friends of friends started to order, and so on. And here we are, it’s Batsheva’s third season, and the first runway presentation. I would dare to say it was a fashion moment, something that growingly becomes a rarity in New York. Her pop-up store, where you can order a customised Batsheva piece, changed into a show venue; Christina Ricci, who became Batshava’s fan on Instagram, opened the show; Courtney Love sat front row (or rather, on a couch) with Hay and her daughter, and evidently enjoyed the scene. The models talked, mused, even sang about beauty through the microphone, and then went down to the guests. The dress came in multiple materials, prints and colours, from corduroy and velvet to lilac and pistachio. There were as well ruffled culottes and cute blazers – evidence that Hay is eager to expand her line. Some of the girls had feathers, fake flowers and textile remnants in their doll-like curls. Batsheva dresses have something dolled-up about them, but not entirely. Worn with heavy boots or sneakers, just as most models did, the dress becomes something completely else right away. What else to love about the brand? No pretentious references or overthought philosophies here, but a fun lineup of clothes that reflects a woman’s personal style. I bet from all the New York-based designers, the one-of-a-kind stuff with Batsheva’s tag will sell first, like buns. No, like cupcakes!

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.