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.”

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Vijay Nanda

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