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The Schmooze

It’s Official, Prairie Dresses Are In: Batsheva Hay Presents At New York Fashion Week

It was a dreary Wednesday afternoon when the sky, seemingly tired of simply teasing bad weather, opened up to a Biblical-level deluge. But inside the Square diner, attendees at the Batsheva Spring Summer 2019 Presentation (designed by Jewish vintage connoisseur Batsheva Hay) stayed dry and warm as they were transported to an idyllic 1950s-era scene. Beehive wigs topped the coifs of models wearing Batsheva’s signature brand of hyper-modern versions of Laura Ashley dresses, as they posed on the diner’s plush leather couches; others in hairnets or rollers, busied themselves at the counter, passing out milkshakes and fries.(Batsheva’s pal Audrey Gelman, co-founder of The Wing, wore a lamé ruffled frock perched on top of a cozy booth, smiling as she passed around fries).

Despite the high fashion occasion, the vibe was casual and relaxed. Guests were encouraged to sit and enjoy the incessant cavalcade of milkshakes, fries, and drinks as they watched models do the same.

Hay recently became a CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund Finalist, an honor that she seemed pretty giddy about. “It’s a big education,” said Hay, clad in a black Batsheva dress edged in white ruffles, her eyes sporting a sparkly black liner shaped in a dramatic cat-eye. “It’s a lot of exposure. It’s honestly been super helpful and a huge boost, a big confidence boost.”

Image by Alexey Yurenev

That boost of confidence reflected itself in the collection’s strength, both in its wearability and cohesiveness of theme.

The ditsy floral prints and shtetl ruffles that made Batsheva a cult name were there, but Hay cultivated it to the extreme, using “nontraditional” (at least, nontraditional for a prairie dress) prints and fabric to explore how far the aesthetic could be pushed. “I was trying to play on both sides of the tension,” explained Hay. “Do things more extreme, like super intense metallics. And at the same time also tap into things that are more simple, like pure whites.”

Image by Alexey Yurenev

This exploration into the seemingly contradictory nature of granny dresses imbuing youth and vigor into the wearer is a very Batsheva thing to do. Where this tension shone, quite literally, were the candy-colored lamé dresses — the dresses glowing like incandescent bulbs under the moody diner lighting.

As the models munched happily on fries, laughing over milkshakes while wearing their feminine Batsheva frocks, it became abundantly clear: This brand is no longer just one to watch, it is here to stay.

Michelle Honig is the style writer at the Forward. Contact her at [email protected]. Find her on Instagram and Twitter.


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