Looking for an intoxicating reality show packed with glamour, drama and style? Watch My Unorthodox Life , streaming now on Netflix. Much like the 2020 miniseries Orthodox , which is based on the true story of a woman who escaped her ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, the heroine of this new documentary has quite a story to tell.
Peek through this nine-episode window into the remarkable life of a wife and mother who, after leaving a fiercely fundamentalist Jewish sect at the age of 42, designed the revealing dress Kendall Jenner wore to the 2017 Met Gala , and became the Chief Executive Officer and co-owner of Elite World Group, the largest modeling and talent media agency in the world. Hers is a story of oppression and empowerment, but it’s also about love and acceptance. Here we see a truly unorthodox family labor to communicate and understand despite very different beliefs and lifestyles.
Meet entrepreneur Julia Haart, star of ‘My Unorthodox Life’
For years, the 50-year-old fashion mogul kept the details of her past a secret. “Until I felt accomplished, I didn’t want people to know about my past,” Haart told the LA Times, “because I didn’t want what was done to me to define me. I wanted what I had done to define myself.”
Haart was born Julia Leibov in 1971 in what was then the Soviet Union. She was the first of eight children in her Orthodox Jewish family, whose identity she did not reveal. They eventually settled in Monsey, NY, home to an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community where Haart attended an all-girls religious school that she felt isolated. Women were not allowed to dance, sing, wear pants, or bare anything but their hands and face. Even a glimpse of a knee or an elbow could cause a man to have sinful thoughts.
“I was always very proud to be Jewish, I loved my Jewish identity,” Haart said in an interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “I just didn’t know that I had to isolate myself from the rest of the world because of this.”
At 19, she entered into an arranged marriage with Yosef Hendler, a man she barely knew, and began a structured life as an obedient wife and later mother of four children. She was often criticized for drawing attention to herself. Her clothes were too tight; the colors were too bright. “The day God stops making flowers, I will stop wearing colors,” she replied. Depression set in and she even considered suicide.
Haart credits her youngest daughter Miriam with saving her life. The inquisitive child loudly questioned his strict lifestyle, something Haart would never dare to do. “Miriam gave me permission to say, ‘There’s something wrong.’ I was 35. That was when my whole journey began.”
It would be eight years before she was ready to go. Unbeknownst to her husband, Haart began selling life insurance and annuities, saving money and mentally preparing for life in the outside world. Shortly after her eldest daughter’s marriage, Haart left her own marriage and changed her surname.
What is Julia Haart’s net worth?
“Girlfriend can’t relax,” said Robert Brotherton, Elite Model World’s chief operating officer and Haart’s right-hand man. Haart’s family agrees. She always works. “I don’t know how to take a vacation,” she said of taking part in the Best Friends Challenge, Family Edition.
If only she could relax, she could pay for a very long vacation. EWG added fashion division E1972 and a growing number of specialized international talent and management agencies. Haart and her husband Silvio Scaglia Haart, who are both co-owners, are certainly pulling in big bucks.
Haart told Women’s Health that the company, which represents a variety of talent and supermodels like Iman, is now valued at more than $1 billion. Add in the earnings from her reality series and her new memoir Brazen, available for pre-order through Penguin Random House, and her net worth can only go up. Although The Cinemaholic values her empire at $10 million, a source close to Haart told Women’s Health the number is “a cool $600 million.”
Haart’s fashion career began with her own line of shoes
You might not be walking on the moon, but your feet definitely won’t touch the ground in Haart’s sky-high, signature heels. The difference is that they are designed for support and comfort with the help of an Italian ski boot engineer and a German company affiliated with NASA. Haart, who has always worn heels, believes women don’t have to suffer to be beautiful.
“For as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved fashion. When I left my community the first thing I wanted to do was start a fashion brand and I chose shoes because even in my community I had loads of flack, I kept saying show me a law that said I can’t wear heels may,” Haart explained in Episode 1 of her Netflix series.
It never occurred to her that she might not be successful. In just a year her brand went global and was recognized by La Perla, known for her high-end lingerie. They bought their brand and she worked with them for two years as their creative director. There she met her husband, the CEO of La Perla. When they married in 2019, he decided to take her last name.
What’s next for the woman who sees fashion as wearable art? She is launching a clothing line that eschews the traditional numbered sizes and instead creates a tailored garment for you without ever having to leave your home. “Basically, all you have to do is sit in your bed, move your phone from head to waist, those measurements are sent to us,” Haart said.