The Gentlewomen Series: Julia von Boehm

The Gentlewomen Series is an ode to women who we look up to and have shown incredible strength during these unprecedented times. They are partners, professionals, breadwinners and mothers. They are also now teachers, psychologists, and homemakers. All achieved with the uttermost kindness, gentleness and grace.

If you search for Julia von Boehm on the wide world of the Internet, it is no surprise you will find her name amongst fashion icons and Hollywood celebrities, from Carine Roitfeld to Nicole Kidman. Her fashion journey is awe-inspiring to say the least and she is no stranger to balancing motherhood and the demands of the fashion industry for 10 years now. 

As the Fashion Director of InStyle, she is known for her incredible storytelling and visual prowess. These days, she is not using her ability to create strong images for magazines and artists only, but she is also extending her styling expertise to donate from one-on-one stylish sessions to COVID relief (World Central Kitchen, World Health Organization COVID-19 Response Fund and Center for Disaster Philanthropy COVID-19 Response Fund), while helping people make the best out of their existent closet.

As we caught up in between her schedule of drop-offs, Zoom calls, styling shoots for InStyle from afar, relaunching her website and lunch boxes (she truly does it all!), we were shown a different side of her. Since the pandemic, she has been able to enjoy more family time and creative activities with her beautiful daughters like fun arts and crafts around their home - "I have a big purpose in my life and my kids help me to see things the way one should see them. In a positive, kind and somewhat naive way."

Her big life's purpose

What have you learned about yourself during this pandemic?
I have learned a lot. I have learned that I should spend more time with my children, that I was stuck in a fast turning albeit enjoyable hamster wheel, that I am addicted to traveling and how important family really is.

What is life like for you right now?
Life still has a very fast pace as I am now a fully hands-on Mom (no more nanny etc.) and I juggle between drop-offs, Zoom calls, and other work commitments like styling shoots for InStyle from afar, relaunching my website, celebrity styling, and lunch boxes.

How are you and your daughters getting inspiration these days? Do you have an activity you are all now fond of?
We have always been very fond of arts and crafts and painting. Now we finally get some time to start and finish a project ( which was not always the case in the past). We come up with spontaneous ideas like creating a calm corner for the family with essential oils and crystals and chandeliers we made out of dried flowers. I usually prefer to do projects with what we have at home instead of buying big craft kits that come in plastic. I guess you could say it's a small effort to be more sustainable. 


Who is your role model?
Someone I admire is Her Royal Highness Elizabeth the Queen of England.

What does being a gentle woman mean to you?
It means to be my best myself; a woman that is strong, but is filled with love and good intentions towards her family, her work and her community.

How would you describe your own personal style?
Classic, not over the top but with a twist somewhere... like a striped mens shirt and high waisted denim.

What do you love most being a mother?
I have a big purpose in my life and my kids help me to see things the way one should see them. In a positive, kind and somewhat naive way.

Being a mother now especially during a pandemic, how do you balance the demands of the fashion industry and personal life?
Well that is a juggle and a struggle I have been balancing for 10 years (the age of my eldest daughter). I was lucky to be able to have a nanny as a safety net when the girls were younger, which was extremely helpful. Now, and especially since the pandemic, I am able to be much more present in my kids’ lives. Their little problems feel much bigger and you just want to be there in person to help them solve these issues and teach them about life.

Are there any films or books that looking back you could say set you on this path without knowing and why?
Diana Vreeland’s biography, Memos: The Vogue Years, 1962-1971.

Dressing with Flair

What is the biggest difference in styling and art directing the commercial and editorial world? How do you remain inspired?
A lot has changed since I started working in fashion at the age of 20 in Paris. Maybe you call me a dinosaur at this point, but I still and always will believe in craftsmanship, experience and the right values. I do not want to adapt to the audience or trends even if that sounds stubborn. I just believe in the old fashion values and in hard work if you want to have a steady career instead of just ONE big moment.

What do you wish could change for the better in fashion?
Sustainability, more style instead of this focus on consumption.

How did you know styling was your life’s purpose after a stint in fashion design?
Fashion design can be very lonely and I like people.

There are many future career prospects in the fashion industry, do you have any advice for someone who loves art, storytelling and everything visual?
Follow your guts and dare. Believe in yourself and shut out the noise!

What are the challenges and celebrations that comes with celebrity styling?
First of all you have to keep in mind constantly that this is NOT a photograph. Second you have to understand who you are dressing. Who is the woman and how can you make her look her best without disguising her. A red carpet look should never feel like a stylist put someone in a dress. It has to work as an entity with the character and the body. It has to match in a very very subtle way and the movie the celebrity is promoting.

Could you recall your most notable and breakthrough styling gig? Why?
I guess a big change in my career was when I started styling Nicole Kidman who I will always be thankful to. She trusted me and believed in me even though she was my first celebrity styling client. Thanks Nic!

What would you hope for people to remember the JVB legacy?
I would not call it a legacy as I am shy but I would like for people to remember that I made them feel strong and that I was a good friend, and hardworking. 

*This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.


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