How Batsheva Hay Went From Practising Law to Dressing the Stars

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Batsheva Hay Spring/Summer 2021 collection lookbook intervie
Batsheva Pre- and Autumn/Winter 2020Courtesy of Batsheva

At a loss about what to do with herself, Batsheva Hay started designing clothes for herself – and then Erykah Badu, Cindy Sherman and Courtney Love

  1. Who is it? Lawyer-turned-designer Batsheva Hay’s namesake label Batsheva, founded in New York
  2. Why do I want it? Deconstructed “house dresses” in moire, cotton, chiffon, corduroy, velvet, and an array of prints, from tartan to polka dot and abstract florals
  3. Where can I get it? On her site, as well as Matches FashionBrowns Fashion, and Harvey Nichols

Who is it? Batsheva Hay was born and raised in New York and like the city her pieces are infused with an electric kind of energy. She wasn’t always a designer, though – before her much-talked-about take on the humble “house dress” became her namesake line, she worked as a lawyer. “I became a new mother and felt very lost with what to do next in my life. We had just moved to a new neighbourhood in the Upper West Side of Manhattan,” Hay tells AnOther. Immersed in a strange new world alongside her husband, photographer Alexei Hay, she found herself reconnecting with the clothes she wore in her youth – among them, garments by British designer Laura Ashley. “I wanted to feel good about myself as a woman, as a new mother. I did not feel that what I saw in stores was smart, weird and comfortable the way that I wanted it. The only thing I liked to wear was vintage, and I thought, ‘Why can I not find something new and fresh that is as good as what I find in a flea market?’”

Inspired, she decided to make a dress for herself – in ten different fabrics – reaching out to a pattern maker through a friend. She “wore the shit out of them everyday. Friends started reaching out and asking me to post my silhouettes on Instagram, which led them to wanting to buy for themselves,” she says. Hay continued making dresses for herself, sourcing fabrics on eBay – something she continues to this day – and a local flea market, as well as designing her own prints herself. The process was, and remains, personal.

Soon, buyers began to take notice. Ruth Chapman, founder of Matches Fashion, overheard someone talking about Hay’s designs and would end up placing an order for 500 dresses to be sold on the site. Shortly after this, celebrity stylist Kate Young discovered the young label, commissioning her to make a custom dusty-pink micro-floral blouse for Natalie Portman; Hailey Benton Gates also became an early fan, stumbling across the brand after searching for clothing made from moire silk. Soon, Batsheva was a red-carpet mainstay: “Erykah Badu, Cindy Sherman, Courtney Love, and Celine Dion have supported me from the beginning and speak to the range of personalities that are attracted to my unique clothes,” Hay says.

Now, Batsheva counts stockists worldwide – alongside Matches Fashion, Hay’s clothing can be found at Browns Fashion and Paris’ Galeries Lafayette, as well as stores in Nigeria, Belarus, Russia, and Japan. In 2018, she was a runner up in that year’s CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund – awarded $150,000 towards the growth of her brand – and has since appeared in the pages of American Vogue, The New Yorker and the New York Times, among others.

Why do I want it? When it comes to seasonal collections, Hay marches to the beat of her own drum, quietly ignoring the traditional fashion calendar and instead simply creating new styles when she gets inspired – which often happens when she visits quilt and hobby-fabric producers. “Who can I imagine wearing this? Cindy Sherman, Courtney Love?” she says of her creative process, though most often she is designing for herself, with the philosophy that there will be an audience for like-minded women who share her desire for clothing that is unconventional but easy to wear. “My favourite thing to do is to look at printed fabrics – in cotton, velvet, corduroy, wool, and dream about combining them together and what shapes work best for that,” Hay says. She has recently introduced crochet alpaca cardigans made in Peru and some Western-style shirting, as well as playful rompers with pockets for Spring/Summer 2021.

Hay’s husband Alexei plays a key role in bringing her collections to life. “Everything kind of just happened,” she says. “When I started making my dresses and Alexei was like, let’s go to the park and take some photos. This really helped bring ideas together and make this a real thing. People were so attracted to the images so we just kept going.”

What’s next for Batsheva? Hay has a whole world of Batsheva in mind: not just clothing but shoes, bedding, sheets, pillow cases, curtains, furniture and jewellery. Many of these plans are already in the works: a Batsheva fragrance is coming in December, a partnership with Regime des Fleurs, while a capsule of jewellery will arrive next spring on Matches Fashion, as well as wallpaper, tablecloths and linens with clothing to match in collaboration with Maison C, run by friends in New York. 

Where can I get it? On her site,, as well as Matches FashionBrowns Fashion, and Harvey Nichols.