Batsheva is a womenswear label taking cues from Laura Ashley bedsheets and the Amish

By
Photography Alexei Hay

Published September 12, 2018

Two years ago, Batsheva Hay’s favorite dress was in tatters, so the feminist lawyer took it to a pattern maker to have it replicated. “Once she told me the price and everything,” Hay recalls, “I was like, ‘Okay, this is an investment. I may as well get creative with it.’” Hay scoured eBay for unusual textiles. She considered pockets, ruffles, hemlines, and darts. The final product, a high-necked prairie dress rendered in upholstery fabric, became the prototype for Batsheva, a line of womenswear that takes inspiration from Gunne Sax, Laura Ashley bedsheets, the Amish, and Hay’s own extended Orthodox Jewish family.

Batsheva’s dresses pull off a feat of femininity that has become rare: to be ultra-girly without the slightest whiff of sexy-baby posturing for the male gaze. With frilled collars, puffed sleeves, multilayered flounces, heart-shaped pockets, and pinafore styling (sometimes all at once), her garments assert a relentless modesty. Their calico prints and stiff moire part our society’s sea of monotone Everlane and body-conscious Yeezy. In a culture that conflates nudity with honesty and stripped-down aesthetics with authenticity, Batsheva’s “Prairie Core” embodies the power of refusing to compromise. Despite its ornamentation, the prairie dress itself is a deeply practical garment. Its fussiness, in some ways, enables a no-fuss wearing experience. Sturdy fabrics hold up in the wash. Busy prints hide stains. Batsheva dresses require no accessories—with necklines that sometimes rise past the ears, they often make accessorizing impossible. The dress contains everything the wearer needs: a singular garment for a singular woman.   

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Hair: Dennis Lanni at Art Department
Makeup: Devra Kinery at Art Department