“I just don’t believe that God would put me into hell because my knees show,” Julia Haart, 50, said.
This was on a blazing July morning, in a room off the lobby of Haart’s hyperluxury Tribeca building, a week or so before the July 14 premiere of “My Unorthodox Life,” a nine-episode unscripted Netflix series about her life. As she lounged on a marshmallowy sofa, Haart’s knees showed, elegantly, below the hem of a floral Dior minidress, above custom-made Gucci platform sandals, through beige fishnet stockings. (She also wore a square-cut diamond, of the approximate dimensions of a Starburst chew.)
Nine years ago, Haart kept everything covered — knees, collarbones, hair. A homemaker and mother of four who sold life insurance on the side, she lived in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community just north of New York City. So miserable that she often contemplated suicide, Haart fled in late 2012. In fashion, she found self-determination.
“When I left, I wore the lowest-cut tops I could find, the shortest shorts,” she said. “Because that, to me, was freedom.”
A few months later, despite having no formal design training, she debuted a luxury shoe brand. A few years after that, the Italian lingerie and swimwear brand La Perla, then attempting a short-lived transition to ready-to-wear and churning through leadership like so much cold-pressed juice, named her its creative director. She met her second husband there, the Italian entrepreneur Silvio Scaglia (who now goes by Silvio Scaglia Haart), and in 2019, he brought her on as a co-owner and the chief executive of Elite World Group, the modeling and talent conglomerate. She has since created an in-house made-to-measure fashion brand, e1972.