You can tell a lot about a person’s life from their fragrance history, and New York–based lawyer turned designer Batsheva Hay has already left quite a trail. Sweet orange blossom from Cacharel’s original eau de parfum scented much of her childhood growing up in Queens, and to this day, even a slight whiff of patchouli brings her back to Palo Alto, California, where she used to buy the earthy oil from a local farmers market as a Grateful Dead–loving undergrad at Stanford University.
Now 39 and in full command of her eponymous four-year-old brand dedicated to frilly, one-off frocks torn from the pages of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Hay is at something of an olfactory impasse. “I’m not afraid of a strong scent, but it’s been tricky for me to find one that’s exactly right,” she reveals of the impetus behind her new collaboration with the conceptual perfume house Régime des Fleurs, which translates Hay’s madcap, more-is-more approach to fashion into a maximalist’s fragrance fever dream.
“I was surprised that she really likes perfume—and that she likes so many different kinds that are totally unrelated,” admits Régime founder and creative director Alia Raza, who, after meeting Hay through friends five years ago, took her on a research trip to the perfume department at Barneys’ now-shuttered Madison Avenue flagship. “It felt like going into a fabric store and picking swatches,” Hay says of the creative process. But instead of calico prints and vintage gingham, Raza worked with smoky bergamot and a surprising water-lily note for an ethereal, aquatic quality.
“There had to be some unpredictable aspect to it,” muses Raza, who purposely shied away from the more obvious fruity floral notes that you might expect from Hay—the woman who has almost single-handedly made “cottagecore” a mainstay on red carpets and Instagram feeds, helped along by a lengthy list of supportive indie darlings and rock icons. (Courtney Love is a loyal fan.) Instead, the fragrance leans heavily on a leather-laced, heady nostalgia that reminds Hay of draping herself in her mother’s clothes and jewelry as a young girl. Her signature florals have their moment via a limited-edition custom-designed printed-glass flacon that arrives in a keepsake pouch made from a matching cotton fabric. “I love how there’s a romance to Batsheva’s clothes but also a lot of mystery when you wear them because you’re all covered up,” Raza says of Hay’s modest cuts. The look is “layered and complex,” she continues—and now atomized.
Régime des Fleurs Batsheva Eau de Parfum, $245, is available at regimedesfleurs.com