Julia Haart broke free from her Orthodox Jewish community aged 42 – and reinvented herself as a high-powered fashionista. “I literally had to time-travel a couple of hundred years,” she tells Elle magazine. She grew up in a Yiddish-speaking community in New York state, with virtually no internet and newspapers, where women’s “sole job” was “to be good mothers and wives”. At 19, forbidden to go to university, Haart entered an arranged marriage. She was miserable being a housewife, and once tried to starve herself to death.
After that she decided to “walk out the door”. It took her eight years to prepare herself for the outside world: she read books and sold life insurance to fund her escape. She went on to become a fashion mogul and marry Italian billionaire Silvio Scaglia, who owns the La Perla lingerie brand. Now she runs a $1bn modelling agency and has a glitzy new Netflix series, My Unorthodox Life. She remains close to her first husband and four children, although “we all have very different opinions” on religion. Aron, 15, lives with his father and won’t talk to girls; Miriam, 21, is a bisexual atheist who studies at Stanford. Schlomo, a 25-year-old student, and Batsheva, a 28-year-old fashion influencer, both keep Shabbat, but are not strictly Orthodox.