Julia Haart, the gorgeous and glamorous star of the hit Netflix reality show “My Unorthodox Life,” has a fascinating backstory. Her rise from the Orthodox Jewish community of Monsey, New York, to the top of the fashion industry is straight out of a fairy tale:
First as the founder and CEO of her own shoe line, then as the creative director of the high-end fashion label La Perla, and now as the CEO of Elite World Group, whose talent agency includes Elite Model Management and represents Kendall Jenner, Iman, and Helena Christensen.
But some who know her believe she is creating an inaccurate and harsh picture of her former neighbourhood, one that is backwards, uneducated, and so limiting that it drove her to suicide.
An old acquaintance of Haart’s from Monsey observed, “Julia’s clinging on to this word ‘fundamentalism,’ and sensationalism sells.” She claims to have been held captive, although this is obviously not the case.
It features many sequences of Haart, 50, screaming about her prior existence in a “extreme” community, a classification that another old friend, Roselyn Feinsod, contests, as well as her four children and her second husband, Elite owner Silvio Scaglia.
Haart declined to share his thoughts.
Experts in the fashion industry claim that the show exaggerates Haart’s standing in the industry.
To paraphrase one critic: “The show is so deceptive. An Elite source called it a “house of mirrors.” When she arrived, it was clear that her only concern was promoting herself.
She’s great at making it look like she’s leading the charge for positive change and championing women’s rights. But she will benefit from the attention.
To be Honest, Julia Haart Has Changed Her Name And Identity Several Times.
As a young girl, Julia Leibov left her native Russia for Texas and then the Orthodox Jewish stronghold of Monsey, New York. Feinsod had first encountered her at yeshiva.
Feinsod, now 50, said that “Julia and her family were accepted by the community.” We’ve known each other since we were in grade school.
She pushed out against the show’s premise that women faced oppression due to cultural norms.
“We are not fundamentalists at all; on the contrary, we have all been raised in a pretty liberal Orthodox environment, where we were exposed to television, movies, travel, and education.”
As Feinsod, now a principal at the international accounting firm Ernst & Young, recounted, Haart changed her name to Talia in high school in an effort to better integrate into the Jewish society. A naming ceremony was even created for her.
In July, Haart expressed her desire for change in an interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency: “What I would love to see is that [Orthodox] women have an opportunity to have a true education, can go to college, to not get married off at 19 on [an arranged match].”
After finishing high school, Haart enrolled in the prestigious Beth Jacob Jerusalem Girls Seminary, which has been called the “Harvard of Jerusalem.” She lacked a formal education in the secular world.
After meeting and marrying Yosef Hendler, a graduate of Wharton, she moved to Atlanta, Georgia for a while before relocating back to Monsey.
The couple brought up four kids: daughters Batsheva (now 28) and Miriam (now 21), and boys Shlomo (now 25) and Aron (now 15). Miriam is a student at Stanford University, and Shlomo is a Columbia Law School graduate.
It’s True That We Took the Kids on a Lot of Exciting Adventures.
I decided to go for a bike ride. Feinsod remarked, “We celebrated both Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July together.” “Julia was not at all like this repressed fundamentalist,” the author writes.
Although Haart has admitted that her time in Monsey was a terrible one, she has remained silent about the financial difficulties she experienced while living there.
According to public documents, Talia Hendler (as Haart was then called) and her husband racked up $425,510 in debt between 1997 and 2017, including 13 tax liens and judgements.
Haart has been more open about the toll her depression and anxiety have taken on her health. According to one of Haart’s longtime friends, the artist admitted to wanting to starve to death since she didn’t believe anyone loved her. As Haart has stated, she was just 73 pounds when she abandoned her Orthodox upbringing.
She mysteriously disappeared without a trace, although it’s unclear when or how she went. Haart vividly describes how she and her daughter Miriam escaped from Monsey the day after Batsheva, then 19, tied the knot in order to launch their own shoe brand.
“They were doing to her what they had done to me — attempting to press her down and mould her into that flat figure that they could disappear.”
Day After Has Become a Defining Moment in Haart’s Mythology.
A friend from Monsey claims that at least seven months elapsed before Haart formally left, and that she still came back for visits, despite Julia’s portrayal that “she just went after Batsheva’s wedding and disappeared.” We can say, “Nothing spectacular happened right away.”
Haart’s former companions in Monsey have been demoralised by her new story. “As we read interview after interview, we were startled that… Julia “taking a position against fundamentalism” and “describing a fictional transition from a life with no radio, television, newspapers, magazines, or bars,” Feinsod said in a LinkedIn piece.
A friend of Haart’s who did not wish to be identified said to The Post, “I think something cracked and she somehow blames religion for everything.”
Haart, now known as Julia Haart, debuted her namesake shoe collection in 2013 despite having no formal fashion experience and a background as a religious-school teacher.
She collaborated with the same Orthodox investor who backs Ivanka Trump’s fashion company, a friend of hers has revealed.
Even though Haart and Yosef had a divorce in 2019, they still get along great and he has made an appearance on the show.
Soon after the success of her 2016 shoe collection, she began working with high-end fashion label La Perla, where she was soon promoted to the position of creative director. It was the ultimate unconventional move that caught everyone by surprise.
An anonymous former employee of La Perla told The Post that many gossiped about Haart’s relationship with then-owner Silvio Scaglia and that she was “in over her head” when she joined. An insider at Haart claims the two met not long after she started working there.
After divorcing his first wife, Monica Aschei, in 2018, Silvio Scaglia (now known as Silvio Scaglia Haart) married Haart in 2019 and made her CEO of his company, Elite. He reportedly parted ways with La Perla in 2018. A $55 million Tribeca apartment is now the couple’s home.
This year, Haart became embroiled in a legal dispute between Elite World Group’s Women Management and Elite USA, another modelling agency. Elite USA was sued for allegedly stealing models from Women, among them Behati Prinsloo.
Elite USA, meanwhile, claimed in the complaint that the models were desperate to leave Women because of “severe mismanagement” at the agency and that Scaglia had put his “dangerously incompetent” then-girlfriend, Haart, in charge. According to the Haart source, the incident in question occurred before Haart joined Elite World Group. In other words, the case has not been resolved.
On the other hand, “Haart was obsessed with having a show and wanted to be the Jewish Kardashian,” as one former Elite staffer put it. The former worker continued, “laying [people] off during the pandemic does not reflect well on the company.”
In her upcoming memoir “Brazen,” due out from Penguin in March 2022, the Haart insider promises to divulge even more of her professional history.
A former Monsey classmate of Haart’s had described being “in awe” of the designer when she was younger but now finds her baffling.
I hadn’t seen Julia in years until Yosef’s engagement celebration, the old buddy said. “She contacted me on the way home and said, ‘You don’t need to be in the community longer, you don’t need to be in a box.’ ‘What are you talking about?’ I asked. I did both (go to school and work)!
‘I do feel that she believes her own hype,’ the ex-friend confirmed. There’s something instilled in her that demands flawless execution of every task. Until she departed, she had to be the ideal Jew.