The Batsheva Dress: New York Fashion Week’s Break-Away Fashion Hit
Rarely has one look caused such a sensation on the chaos of fashion week. But when it does happen, the news and style spreads like wildfire. Last week’s New York Fashion Week had one particular dress that immediately made headlines: the Batsheva Dress, the signature piece of the namesake fashion label, Batsheva Hay, draws its appeal from the uptight garb of Orthodox Judaism—and people are loving it.
The designer herself, Batsheva Hay, hails from a secular Jewish family, and married a devout Orthodox Jew fashion photographer, Alexei Hay. Apart from their faith, both Batsheva and Alexei shared a fascination for Orthodox clothing, which in time would become their pursuit in the modern fashion industry.
In an interview with The New Yorker, Batsheva shares the dress’ humble beginnings, when she needed to have her favorite Laura Ashley address remade. With intentions to alter the cut of the dress, Batsheva decided to have several more copies of the dress, the fabrics of which she sourced from eBay. Batsheva then dons these news creations, with puffed sleeves, ruffles and high-collars to the streets of New York; and after receiving many compliments from strangers, she knew this was a chance for an exciting enterprise.
The Batsheva dress itself has been described as a “frumpy” prairie, or Victorian style attire—a description Batsheva herself accepts with pride. “There’s always a tension in the clothing that’s almost over the top but almost urban”, says Batsheva in an interview with Women’s Wear Daily. “That’s something I try to make a joke of. It’s such a feminine dress, but it’s tough when you wear it with boots.”
The Batsheva dress’ puritanical allure sounds counterintuitive to the dominant attitude of flaunting women’s bodies. However, the modest fashion movement has always existed as a counter-culture to the liberal, skin-showing trend, and has perhaps been steadily growing over the years. Earlier this year, H&M launched its first ever “modest fashion line” to cater to their more conservative (and Muslim) clientele; and even in Marc Jacobs’ Fall/Winter 2018 show, there is a growing acceptance in more covered-up style attire.
But perhaps it is Lena Dunham, who—alongside other celebrity clientele of Batsheva Hay, like, Natalie Portman and Jessica Chastain—summed it up best when she said, “[The Batsheva dresses] looks like the party dresses that you would have wanted when you were six, or like the dresses that characters in your favorite book would have worn.”
Could this be the start of modest fashion’s big momentum? We’ll have to wait and see, but for now, we can marvel at Batsheva Hay’s flirtatiously conservative designs, and perhaps, be inspired to cover-up with pomp.
Photos via @batshevadress