Suffer for beauty? Not Julia Haart. The La Perla creative director has made a priority of removing pain points from women’s wardrobes such as uncomfortable underwire bras, constrictive corsets and high-heeled shoes.
“We have this incredible opportunity,” Haart said. “La Perla is a company that was founded by a woman and built on the understanding of women’s bodies. I want to bring that expertise to the collection.”
A new ad campaign photographed by Steven Klein and featuring Kendall Jenner, Isabeli Fontana and Liu Wen is themed around the liberation of women from their garments.
“Kendall was so self-assured and confident and comfortable in her own skin,” Haart said. “I felt she wasn’t looking for external approval. I want women to feel great about themselves. I don’t need someone to tell me what to wear. I dress for myself.”
Haart is more than doubling the size and scope of ready-to-wear to 192 pieces for winter, from 80 pieces in the spring. An essentials fitted wool blazer with wire-free corset tailoring comes in sizes 36A/B to 46C/D and retails for $2,880.
“It’s the concept of making clothes work for you, as opposed to stuffing yourself into them,” Haart said. “We make sure the material is as soft on the inside as it is on the outside. We add a little bit of stretch, but not too much so you feel like you’ve been mummified. When you have the clothes as your second skin, you don’t have to think about them or adjust them.”
Flowerland silk and wool leggings, $1,680, are designed to show off a woman’s curves. “They’re not cut to a man’s shape,” Haart said. “I did for wool pants what they did to skinny jeans.”
Haart has tweaked the shirtdress, a wool button-down, $900. “Every season, a woman wants a shirtdress,” she said. “Mine has definition underneath the bust as to give a woman that cinched look, but it’s loose after that. We’re feminists now. We don’t have to hide behind baggy clothes anymore. Who decides what a body is supposed to look like? Our designs enhance the parts of ourselves that we feel good about and gently covers those we don’t.”
Haart is introducing gowns and cocktail dresses. “We’re also going to do haute couture and dress major celebrities,” she said, noting that a La Perla runway show is planned for New York Fashion Week in February.
“I’m reversing everything that bothered me about clothes that I wanted to change,” Haart said. “Women in this day and age dress for themselves. Yes, they want the adulation, but at the end of the day, it’s what you see in the mirror.”
Resortwear consists of rompers, pantsuits and loose dresses made of wrinkle-resistant fabrics. Silk Soul layering pieces can be worn underneath a jacket or as pajamas. The range will grow in the fall with the addition of lace and embroidery on the pieces.
Haart wants La Perla to be a one-stop shop for everything a woman needs. Jewelry is being introduced for fall and the handbag collection is growing. Haart, who designed a namesake shoe collection before joining La Perla, said she’s taking the same approach with the brand’s sexy, high-heel styles. “I have three patents pending,” she said, noting she alters the arch and adds gel with antishock and cooling capabilities for improved comfort.
With all the new products, La Perla has begun expanding stores or relocating to larger spaces in a market. The flagship on North Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills will see its square footage double, while Via Montenapoleone in Milan is tripling in size. Other units in Tokyo and Hong Kong are expanding or moving into larger spaces.