Eight years ago, Julia Haart was a homemaker and mother of four living in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community north of New York City. Today, she’s the co-owner and chief executive of modeling conglomerate Elite World Group, the founder of fashion brand e1972, and Netflix’s latest reality star. Haart’s unconventional path to heading a global talent empire is the subject of My Unorthodox Life, a new Netflix docu-series chronicling the glitz and glamour of her work, along with the ups and downs of raising four children. If you’re not plugged into the fashion world, you may not have heard of Haart, but her star has been rising for years.
In her ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, Haart sold insurance on the side while caring for her children, though even then, her fashion sensibility was already forming. Haart created a shoe brand in her mind and started sewing at age sixteen, despite admonitions from her community.
“I’d been making my own clothes, even though in my community fashion is a giant no-no,” Haart told The New York Times. “The only point of clothing is to hide you. And if you love clothing and color, that means you’re too focused on the physical, you’re not thinking about your soul. But I loved color. And I had always worn high heels.”
To become a fashion mogul, Haart first had to leave her fundamentalist community, where she had grown increasingly uncomfortable with the conservative principles and practices. Haart credits her daughter Miriam with emboldening her to leave everything she’d ever known, saying, “She just wouldn’t conform. They were doing to her what they had done to me—trying to push her down and mold her into that flat person that they could disappear. I couldn’t let that happen. I literally packed my [expletive] and walked out the door with her.”
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Haart launched her fashion career with a namesake shoe line, partnering with ski boot engineers and using insulation gel designed for NASA space stations to formulate an ultra-comfortable high heel. Her innovative designs caught the eye of La Perla, where she was then brought on as the brand’s creative director. There Haart met and married La Perla owner (and founder of Italian telecomm giant Fastweb) Silvio Scaglia; now, they co-own Elite World Group, a talent and modeling conglomerate whose client roster includes Kendall Jenner, Rita Ora, Adriana Lima, and Willow Smith, among others.
But as her professional fortunes rose, Haart was experiencing culture shock. “I was 43 and knew nothing about the world,” Haart told People of her exit from her onetime community. “I felt like a martian.”
In the trailer for My Unorthodox Life, we meet Haart’s four children, who share their mother’s struggle to reconcile their conservative upbringing with their lavish lifestyle in the modern world. Haart’s oldest son, law student Shlomo, confesses that he’s still a virgin, while the trailer teases that he may experience his first kiss on camera. Haart’s second child, Batsheva, is already a TikTok celebrity, but the show promises to go behind the scenes of her life in a whole new way. “I did the married thing young at 19 and never had any single years as an adult,” Batsheva says, explaining how she balances beloved traditions with a modern lifestyle.
Haart’s other daughter, the aforementioned Miriam, is still just a teenager, but she’s already passionate about building apps that empower women. Miriam, who recently came out as bisexual, says in the trailer, “I’m just trying to be myself. That to me is what I fought with my mom to do.” Meanwhile, Haart’s youngest child, Aron, remains more bonded to the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community than his siblings. Aron reveals, “People have tried to be like, ‘Why don’t you loosen up a little?’ I’m like, ‘That’s not me.'”
After years of demurring about her complicated past, My Unorthodox Life signals Haart’s decision to go public with her unconventional story. Early next year, Haart will go into even further detail in the memoir Brazen: My Unorthodox Journey from Long Sleeves to Lingerie.
“Until I became creative director of La Perla, I didn’t tell a single soul anything about my past,” Haart said. “Zero. Like, if guys would ask about my past, I would literally make [expletive] up. I didn’t want people to know my story. I didn’t want to be a victim. But after my first collection, I thought, I’ve accomplished a little something. I had come to a place of personal comfort. And I hoped that someone would watch this and say, OK, if this crazy bitch did it, I can do it.”
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