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Batsheva Hay: ‘Old people are way more punk’

By Aaron Hicklin

Inspired by her grandma and the elderly residents of Brooklyn, designer Batsheva Hay’s subversive twist on frumpy 80s Laura Ashley style is making fashion headlines

Shortly after they were married, Batsheva Hay was startled to find her husband, the celebrated fashion photographer Alexei Hay, throwing out all his old clothes. “He had such cool clothing, really super stylish three-piece suits, things like that,” she recalled one recent afternoon as we sat in her apartment in Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Hay tried to save a few pieces, but Alexei would not be persuaded. Although brought up as a secular Jew, he’d recently turned to Orthodox Judaism, and wanted to purge his wayward past. Those clothes had been worn around other woman, and therefore had to go. Hay was dismayed. “He literally threw everything away, and went to a tailor in Williamsburg and just had 10 Hasidic suits made and started wearing those to photo shoots,” she recalls. “It was crazy.” She scrolls through her iPhone to find photos of Alexei in his full beard, black fedora and plain black suits – and giggles. “He just rolled like that for a while, and meanwhile I was wearing leggings and T-shirts. We looked like such an odd couple.”

Bonkers though it may seem, it takes a certain kind of confidence to turn up to photograph someone like Prince Harry for Town & Country, or Sarah Jessica Parker for the cover of Bazaar – two of Alexei’s many commissions – dressed in full Hasidic garb. In an industry constipated by the relentless demands of holding the right pose, it even feels radical. Like the scene in Annie Hall when Woody Allen morphs into a caricature of a rabbi at the dinner table of Diane Keaton’s all-American family, it forces others to examine their uneasiness. “Alexei has to really believe in something and take it to the nth degree,” explains Batsheva. “And he’s also happy to provoke people, and say something that makes them uncomfortable. I’m not, I’m a people-pleaser.”

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Via:: https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2018/nov/25/batsheva-hay-interview-fashion-designer-former-lawyer-new-york-frills