“I’m 50, much to my dismay. Better to be in your 50s then the alternative, so I’m not complaining, but I kind of started my life at 43. I didn’t go to prom, I didn’t have boyfriends. I missed all of that, you know?
I was born in pre-perestroika Moscow, when Jews were being arrested and sent to Siberia. My family was among those who were persecuted. At the same time Russia had a massive grain shortage, and because of their civil and human rights violations, America wouldn’t trade with them. But then they made a humanitarian exception—basically, they made a deal and traded grain for Jews. That’s how we came to this country. My parents became extremely religious after leaving communism, and eventually moved to Monsey, New York. That’s when the gates of the outside world closed on me. The easiest way to explain it is that I lived in the eighteenth century. All I hoped and prayed for was a good husband, because I was taught that my purpose in life was to have babies. The problem was that I was obsessed with fashion. To me, fashion was interactive art. It was self expression and color and vibrancy and uniqueness. I taught myself how to sew when I was sixteen years old. I would sneak Vogue magazines and tear out pages where I saw beautiful things, then add a high collar and a low sleeve to make them tzniut, or modest. I couldn’t wear anything below my collarbone, above my elbow, above my knee, or above my ankle. My entire body, except for my head and hands, was covered.
I’ve been fighting the dichotomy between my innate nature and what I was told I had to be my whole life. It was me against five thousand years of tradition, and millions of people are really happy living that way. I felt like, ‘What’s wrong with me?’ So I tried to fix myself. I tried to twist myself into a pretzel to not be me. Then came my daughter [Miriam Haart], who didn’t give a shit about what anyone thought. When she got to be five years old, she started fighting with everyone about why she wasn’t allowed to run, or play sports, or do all of these things that she wanted to do. She kept on being told, ‘Because it’s not appropriate, because a man might see you and think inappropriate thoughts…’ And this little five year old would be like, ‘Well… Why is that my problem?’ It gave me the permission I needed to get out of that life. I focused on educating myself for eight years, and then I left.
I left [Monsey] in November 2012. It was so crazy. I knew I wanted to start a shoe line and found investors in the most bizarre places. I was next to someone on an airplane and they would invest in my company. I’d be in a restaurant and they’d invest in my company—it was all I would talk about, all I thought about, all I dreamt about. It was the first time in my life that I was happy. I wasn’t going to fail because there was just no way. I started the shoe company in January 2013. Within two years we collaborated with La Perla and my shoes were sold in their 127 stores. All the investors in [my shoe company] made a 15-percent return. Not terrible! Then, a year later, I became Creative Director of La Perla. For both La Perla and my shoe line, the whole idea was to eradicate the concept of suffering for beauty. Fashion for women isn’t actually for women when it’s being made by men who don’t give a shit if we feel comfortable—they just want us to look pretty. In today’s day and age there’s no earthly reason why you can’t combine comfort and luxury. I started at La Perla in the middle of 2016, my first collection was in 2017, and I left in 2018.
I’ve been fighting the dichotomy between my innate nature and what I was told I had to be my whole life.
I love my job at Elite World Group now, because I get to be the boss. When my husband asked me to take over the company, I put in my own money and I invested in it—we are 50/50 owners. Modeling isn’t about the runway anymore, it’s about the fact that the talent has an audience. They’re the media. I realized that if I transform us into a talent-as-media conglomerate… Think about the fact that the best show on NBC gets 2.3 or 2.8 million viewers, and Jasmine, when she prunes roses in her garden, gets 30 million views. So what’s the difference between Jasmine Sanders’ Instagram page and an NBC show? NBC shows have directors, producers, filmographers, videographers, content creators… We brought that all in-house. We’ve got the audience, and if I can truly transform these models into brands and networks, number one, they have total control of their careers. They get financial independence, because they’re not waiting for the phone to ring. And they get longevity. Traditionally, how long is the career of a model? Ten years? They start when they’re 18, and they’re done by the time they’re 35. By utilizing the time that they’re in the public eye not only to show how beautiful they are, but who they are, what makes them unique, what they’re passionate about, when they’re 60 they can still make money. This is my opportunity to create an army—an army of financially independent women who will never have to ask for permission. That’s the dream.
First I wash my face with the Neostrata Exfoliating Wash in the morning and tone with the Josh Rosebrook Daily Acid Toner. Then, I put the Skinmedica TNS Advanced+ Serum on my face—it sucks everything up and smoothes everything out. After that, I have Elemis Ultra Smart Pro Collagen Morning Eye Balm or the Dr. Brandt Needles No More No More Baggage Eye-Depuffing Gel—anyone over 12 should have this. I don’t know what they put in it, but it’s genius. That’s followed by a little bit of the Regenerating Skin Nectar by Alastin. I’m an insane La Mer junkie. Generally, I use the Soft Cream in the summer and the Moisturizing Cream in the winter. I have two primers with SPF, the Chantecaille Ultra Sun Protection Primer and the Giorgio Armani Maestro UV Skin Defense Primer. I interchange them.
I use the Alpha Beta Glow Pads when I want to get a little color for my face, and I use the Droplette machine three times a week. Basically, you get these little serum capsules that you stick in this aerosol thing, and it sprays [the serum] super evenly so it really penetrates. I have retinol capsules and collagen capsules. The machine is in the Hamptons right now—I have more time to use it when I’m there. Then, I use one of those LED light things, Celluma Pro. It’s as if you’re going to the office—medical grade. It just makes everything tighter and brighter. I try to do it every night. I don’t succeed.
I have masks in my beauty fridge to help cool down my face, but... I’ve tried to use these Pixi under eye patches and they’re OK, but not great. But I do use these Georgia Louise Cryo Facial Freeze Tools very frequently, especially if I’ve been out all night or I haven’t slept because I have insane insomnia and my eyes look like shit. I also just got my under eye bags done about a month ago—I tried everything outside of surgery first, and nothing worked.
In today’s day and age there’s no earthly reason why you can’t combine comfort and luxury.
Giorgio Armani’s Luminous Silk Foundation is my foundation if I’m going to a meeting or whatever. I also like Chanel’s Les Beiges Healthy Glow Foundation. On a normal day if I’m not doing very fancy meetings, I mix four foundation colors together. I’ve got Giorgio Armani’s Crema Nuda Supreme Glow Tinted Cream in 7, 7.5, 5.75, and 5. The other tinted moisturizers I like to use are La Mer Radiant Skin Tint, because it has broad spectrum SPF, and Peter Thomas Roth’s Max Mineral 45 Tinted Sunscreen. If it’s a very chill day I just do primer and the Charlotte Tilbury Unisex Healthy Glow Hydrating Tint. It’s unbelievable. It evens everything out without using foundation. And at night, my primer when I don’t need sunscreen is Armani Beauty’s Fluid Master Primer. I’m old. I need my primers. I do use a concealer, the Cover FX Power Play Concealer in P Medium 2. I like that it doesn’t sit in my wrinkles—again, at 50 years old, most concealers sit in those lines, and it’s blegh. Somehow, this one manages to float. Then, I end it with the Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Setting Spray.
I use the Chanel Baume Essentiel Glow Stick in Golden Light as my highlighter, and sometimes I use the Armani Glow Enhancer Highlighter in 11 as a bronzer. There’s also a Tan-Luxe bronzer that I like. For blush, I like the Westman Atelier Baby Cheeks Blush Stick in Dou Dou. On my brows, I use the Diorshow Brow Styler. If it’s a regular day, I’ll use gray-blue or dark purple eyeliner—Marc Jacobs’ Cinderella is my favorite, and I also like Tom Ford Emotionproof Eyeliner in 6 Heliotropium. Kiki from Bling Lash comes to my house every two weeks for lash extensions. They’re the best because sometimes I don’t want to wear eye makeup! And I got my lips tattooed about two months ago because I hate lipstick. I’m always so pale, and friend was telling me that it’s genius and that everybody will stop yelling at me to wear lipstick, so I was like ‘OK, fuck it.’ I think you probably have to touch it up every so often, but I have no clue. If I do use lipstick, it’s generally Dior Addict Lip Glow in Rosewood or Rose Gold.
My hair is a disaster. It didn’t have any sun exposure until I was 43 years old and took my wig off. I’m taking hair growth vitamins for that, Nutrafol. I have no idea whether they work or not. Then, I take Elysium’s Matter and Basis supplements. These two literally reverse aging. I’ve tested my actual age versus my biological age, and I’ve gone backwards seven years since I started using those. It’s unbelievable. I’ve been using it now for three or four years.
For shampoo, I use the Oribe Gold Lust Repair & Restore Shampoo in the huge bottles. That’s it. I don’t use any other product in my hair. I do get extensions though, every three months, with Luis Miller from the Fabio Scalia Hair Salon. There’s also an amazing person in Paris, Myriam K., that I go to. It just depends on where I am and the particular time. And for when I get grays, I have the Everpro Gray Away Root Touch Up. I wish I didn’t need that, but I do.
For me to have a good bath, the water has to be insanely hot. It needs bubbles.
FRAGRANCE + BODY
I really like Frederic Malle’s Superstitious. Generally, that’s my only scent, but there’s this new scent that I just got from Louis Vuitton, Attrape Rêves, and I’m obsessed with it. It smells like summer and happiness. When I need a pick-me-up in the morning I use the Espa Skincare Positivity Bath and Shower Gel. I love the way it smells. It just wakes me up! I feel invigorated. I also have a sleepytime one, the Bergamot and Jasmine Bath & Shower Gel. When I’m super dry, I use the Clarins Velvet Cleansing Milk on my body. Then, my two favorite exfoliators are Caudalie’s Crushed Cabernet Scrub and Jo Malone’s Geranium and Walnut Body Scrub. Or sometimes, when I’m feeling bloated, I use the Orlane Aqua Svelte Slimming Scrub. I also love using the Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Exfoliating Body Treatment to remove self tanner—it’s the best. I use La Mer’s Reparative Body Lotion on my body, and tend to put Alastin’s Transform Body Treatment on my knees and butt. If I’m going out to dinner, I love to use Tom Ford’s Soleil Blanc Shimmering Body Oil.
I’ve had to take a bath every day for most of my life because I have a water retention issue. But I just cut salt out of my life so now I take baths for enjoyment. For me to have a good bath, the water has to be insanely hot. It needs bubbles. I definitely need a jacuzzi situation, and a very deep tub. If there’s a small bathroom, I’ll get it all steamy. I don’t put oils or bath salts in it—just bath water. That’s it. Very pure.”
—as told to ITG
Julia Haart photographed by Lucy Helena Van Ellis on August 10, 2021 in New York.