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Fidan Novruzova AW23
Photography Benedict Brink, Styling François Gravel

Fidan Novruzova’s clothes are so much more than ‘post-Soviet’

The rising designer reflects on her hatred of Geminis, Jeffrey Campbell Litas, and the Moldovan fashion scene

Like so many other people who have spent time on the internet, Fidan Novruzova has learnt that she would like to heal her inner child. Not with journaling or Post-it note affirmations, but with a pair of Jeffrey Campbell Lita boots. Having grown up in Eastern Europe (where she says there was “literally no fashion”) the rising designer was robbed of the opportunity to two-step to Vampire Weekend in the beloved 2010s shoe. Perhaps that was the thinking behind Novruzova’s signature boot – a cumbersome, knee-high clodhopper in boggy gradients of green and black – that has managed to stir a strange devotion in London’s aesthetes while horrifying the Moldovan delivery men taking the shoes to and from her small atelier. “They were the blueprint,” she says. “The Lita walked so all other ugly shoes could run.”

Novruzova’s designs aren’t ugly but they are unusual: acid-washed denim coats with 3D-printed coils at the clavicles, suede boleros with structured epaulettes, woollen trousers with low-bowed waistbands. It’s about reworking the familiar and the domestic in bizarrely covetable ways to produce a look that feels assertive and feminine and kitsch without the overblown frou-frou of Molly Goddard or Simone Rocha. Since graduating from Central Saint Martins’ in 2020, Novruzova says the Moldovan fashion industry has grown “from zero to one”, and though she flies to Paris whenever her visa allows, a relative outsiderdom has given the brand an insider feel that would have been much harder to manufacture in an established fashion capital.

Below, Fidan Novruzova reflects on her early obsessions with, her hatred of Geminis, and why people should stop describing her designs as merely “post-Soviet”. 

Hey Fidan! Let’s take it back to the beginning a bit. How did you first get into fashion?

Fidan Novruzova: I’m a developing country girlie, born and raised in Moldova, so it was all about Fashion TV, Blogspot, and when I was growing up. There was no fashion going on at home and it just wasn’t a cool thing to be interested in, so the internet was my bridge to the outside world. Moldovan fashion is definitely evolving but it’s still quite isolated. People do care about their appearance, though, and the women, in particular, are very well put-together – even when taking the trash out – and I love that. I actually had a street style blog when I was younger but I refuse to give you more information on that. 

Does it still exist online?

Fidan Novruzova: Yeah, erm, no. It exists… but I can’t give you any more information on that. 

Okay, well, what kind of street style did you like?

Fidan Novruzova: I loved the OG Scandinavian bloggers but I don’t want to name names because, well, I’m not a fan anymore! It was all very indie sleaze, though. And I’d have to sketch out my favourite pieces because we only had, like, Benetton and Sisley in Moldova. Whenever we went to a European city I would head to H&M and stock up on harem pants and military jackets. You just couldn’t get anything at home, like the Jeffrey Campbell Litas. Ugh. They were so expensive and impossible to deliver to Moldova and I had nobody to ask for help, so I missed that wave. Maybe I should get a pair now to heal my inner child.

You should do a collaboration. Maybe the heel-less ones? 

Fidan Novruzova: Oh it’s so expensive to launch a new shoe so I’d love to collab. Hit me up, guys. Wait… maybe I don’t want that? The Litas did walk so the ugly shoe revival could run, though. They were the blueprint for all of us. 

What are some of the obsessions you return to time and time again?

Fidan Novruzova: I love familiarity with clothes. I love when there are multiple things that are familiar to the eye but represented in a unique way – I think that’s how the shoes took off. It’s a bit of a crazy design but everything comes from a certain context: the ombré patina is something that traditional men’s brogues have, the leather sole, the crease, the stitching. It’s familiar things put together but unseen before. I wear all my own stuff so it’s really important that I like what I see, but it’s got to feel democratic, anyone can wear them. Even my mum! I did an event at Paris Fashion Week and quite a few people said ‘Oh I did not imagine your pieces on a mature client but she looks fabulous’.  

That’s quite surprising because your work feels quite domestic.

Fidan Novruzova: Well, there are a lot of jackets and jackets are so ‘mum’. I know what you mean about domestic – my graduate collection had a lot of recycled tablecloths and there’s an Eastern European energy to the clothes. That’s not something I necessarily aim for but I’m surrounded by it so that just happens organically. I don’t like it when people refer to my work as post-Soviet, though, even though that’s hard to ignore because it’s where I come from. 

I guess it’s just an easy description that is also a bit flattening. 

Fidan Novruzova: There are just so many more layers to it and I get inspiration from the most random things: something on the street, a stranger on Pinterest, art deco columns, Chloe Sevigny in the 90s, a lace apron that this one Ukrainian fishmonger on TikTok wears. The latest collection is a proud moment for us because it took me one month to create 22 looks from idea to product. It’s the most productive I’ve ever been and I’m good with pressure but that’s something I need to change, I don’t want to reproduce a toxic fashion work culture in my team. But yeah, it’s so much more than just post-Soviet. I think you can see the CSM student in the work and the person who lives on and off in Paris in the bow trousers, for example. In fact, you should write that I’m moving to Paris to hold me accountable. 

Fidan Novruzova is moving to Paris. What do you think people misunderstand about your work?

Fidan Novruzova: The Soviet thing! There’s so much more to it, it’s all my lived experiences. I also get the tiniest bit offended when I’m called a shoe brand. My life would be easier if that was the case. We do a lot of categories and people have been warming up to the clothes over the last couple of seasons. 

Did you have a freakum outfit when you were growing up?

Fidan Novruzova: I had this gold denim jacket and have photographic evidence I can provide. It was quite a big deal. Oh, I also had a Lacoste suit that I wore to school. 

What’s the most reckless thing you do? 

Fidan Novruzova: Designing a collection within one month. 

Would you design Rishi Sunak’s next TV look for £10k? 

Fidan Novruzova: No… No… No. 

What’s your weirdest internet obsession?

Fidan Novruzova: Oh my god, so many. I’m working on rewiring my ways with easy dopamine but I do like this guy, Tanner Leatherstein, that cuts up bags on TikTok. I feel scammed every time I see his videos because he gives the production prices and I’m like ‘Well, I pay more!’

What’s the most embarrassing screenshot on your camera roll? 

Fidan Novruzova: I wish there was something embarrassing, it’s so bland, there’s nothing special on there. The most embarrassing thing is that I don’t have an embarrassing screenshot. 

What’s the most recent note on your Notes App? 

Fidan Novruzova: I’m coming to London this week so I have a list of things to do and people to meet – old friends, new friends. 

What’s your most unusual comfort food?

Fidan Novruzova: Whatever’s trending on TikTok. Right now it’s the hormone-balancing salad with carrots and lemon juice and salt. It’s really, really good. You should try it. It’s a crazy sensory situation. 

What’s the worst advice you’ve ever been given?

Fidan Novruzova: Anything to do with people pleasing. You can’t please everyone. You’ve got to protect your boundaries. 

Who’s your nemesis?

Fidan Novruzova: No comment. I feel like this person will still know who I’m talking about, but no comment. My arch nemeses are always Geminis, though.

Nice, I’m a Gemini. What’s your star sign and are you typical of that sign?

Fidan Novruzova: I’m a Pisces and my rising is Leo, which I’m very happy about. I do love Pisces, especially the women, but career-wise it can be very hard on us because we’re all so sensitive.  

What would your ghost outfit be?

Fidan Novruzova: I’d definitely be wearing Havva boots and I will definitely be haunting my loved ones in vintage Chanel.