From the glamorous re-invention of classic Soviet dining to modern Muscovite street style, a new generation of brands and businesses is drawing on classic Russian tropes and re-imagining them. It’s helped transform Moscow into a 21st-century cultural powerhouse, as visitors will discover this month when they arrive for the World Cup. But where to go? The pioneers of this burgeoning neo-Russian scene have the answer
The beauty pioneer
Given how fiercely patriotic Russians are becoming about the goods they buy, it was only a matter of time before home-grown organic cosmetics became a mainstay. Muscovite Katerina Karpova, a graduate of Mendeleev University, has helped mint Moscow’s natural cosmetics industry. Her pioneering cosmetics line Pure Love uses the kind of natural products that have long featured in folk remedies but brings them up to date with technical expertise and an experimental spirit. And Moscow’s urbanites can’t get enough of the minimalist design.
What’s the spirit of your brand?
For me, the most important thing is to show that Russian cosmetics can be of very high quality with beautiful, modern design. Rather than following old-fashioned traditions and competitors, we are led by a desire to forge a new generation of cosmetics.
What inspired you to start Pure Love?
I began by developing cosmetics for myself. I discovered Corneotherapy System – cosmetics made to restore the protective barrier of the skin. This kind of care solves so many problems at once!
When you want to feel inspired and escape the crowds in Moscow, where do you go?
The VDNKh Park in the north of the city is wonderful, and of course walking in Gorky Park is great. It’s also worth taking a bike ride in Pokrovskoye-Streshnevo park.
During the World Cup, where will you go to get a breath of fresh air and wind down?
I love to have breakfast or lunch at the Brick Design Hotel, which always has a lovely atmosphere, in the heart of the city. If I want to be outside, then Serebryany Bor, which is a forest-park to the west of Moscow. It’s by the water and there’s even a little beach. There’s the most beautiful pond with waterlilies, really a must-see!
The dining supremo
With every new Moscow restaurant he opens, Arkady Novikov brings something new to Russian gastronomy. The doyen of Moscow’s dining scene, with close to 50 establishments in the city and some 70 in total across the planet, Novikov’s experimental streak and passion for local fare continues to surprise and delight A-list Muscovites, who flock to every new opening with gusto, whether it’s a simple steak house or burger joint, or the glamorous reinvention of Soviet classics at a restaurant with a house-sized valenok (the traditional Russian fur boot) outside.
What’s next for you?
We want to open more restaurants in London. We are about to launch in Miami and Saudi Arabia, and are planning to open in Sardinia in time for the summer season.
What is the most unusual idea for a restaurant you’ve ever had?
Kolbasny Tsex is particularly unusual – we created a small factory where we produce our own sausages, hams and other meats, and all of them are delicious. Our cheese specialist Syrovarnya is another. It was so successful that we have opened three more, with two others in the pipeline.
Where would you advise visitors in Moscow to eat?
For restaurants, Gorynych, which opened in the city centre recently, has been very successful. I’d also recommend two of the biggest and best markets in Moscow: Dorogomilovsky Farmers Market and Usachevski Market.
Which foods should World Cup visitors try to get a real flavour of contemporary Russian cuisine?
Pancakes, borscht, olive salad and vinaigrette salad (this is not the dressing but a dish made from beetroot, potato, carrot and cucumber). Also dishes from the former USSR – Azerbaijani and Georgian – are very popular in Moscow.
The lifestyle guru
When Moscow author-turned-entrepreneur Ivan Mitin launched his chic pay-per-minute cafe chain Ziferblat, he introduced Moscow’s creative elite to a new era of “slow leisure”. There are now Ziferblats from London to Samara, but it’s Mitin’s newest project, Bolotov Dacha, that is currently making waves. Fusing his entrepreneurial spirit with a commitment to conscious living, the newly built and stylishly designed wooden cottage in Moscow’s south-easterly forests welcomes guests to spend blissful summers eating organic food from its eco-farm, or frosty winters cross-country skiing.
What was the inspiration behind Ziferblat?
Ziferblat is an evolution of an earlier project which had the same model of paying for time rather than for tea and coffee. It became so popular that we had to look for a new place. Soon after we opened a second branch, other people began to open similar cafes and it snowballed from there.
Tell us about Bolotov Dacha, which is a modern take on the very traditional dacha country home. People usually compare the atmosphere of Ziferblat with being at a dacha with family.
With Bolotov Dacha, I wanted to create the experience of Ziferblat but in nature, so people can escape the city, relax for a few days, eat healthy food, breathe fresh air and have more time for conversation.
Where would you head for Russian artisanal fare?
I’m quite involved in the new farming movement in Russia. Near Bolotov we have a huge farm hub where local farmers can sell the food they produce. We do it together with the LavkaLavka cooperative, which has a restaurant on Petrovka Street – they have the best borscht in Moscow!
Where do you head to in the summer?
Gorky Park and Zaryadye Park. There are some atmospheric parts of town that are especially nice if you know about Russian culture: the preserved area around Chistyye Prudy and Kitay-gorod metro stations I like the most, and you can visit the house where the poet Mandelstam lived.
The style icons
Maxim Bashkaev and Dilyara Minrakhmanova
For the last four years, fashion label Outlaw Moscow has helped shape a new look for Moscow style. Maxim Bashkaev and Dilyara Minrakhmanova, the duo behind the label, have borrowed tropes from Russia’s multi-ethnic culture and fused them with slick designs, working with everyone from Skepta to Puma. Outlaw has also made a name for itself with highly produced fashion videos shot in locations from London to Fiji. No wonder Russia is having a fashion moment right now.
What’s the ethos of your brand?
It’s to provide an alternative voice, to make clothes that express unusual ideas as well as create a movement for people who want something different. Everyone at Outlaw is a mix of ethnicities – from Russian to Asian to Tatar – though we do share the same culture and want to show that Russia is integrated with the rest of the world.
How would you define Moscow style right now?
Moscow style is like our architecture – a mix of something urban, classic, sexy. It’s like Berlin and New York, only with some Asian inflections added. Which Moscow fashion brands are hot right now? The Uzbekistan-born designer J.Kim and Asiya Bareeva, with her Islam-inspired clothing, are both amazing. Fakoshima, the guy behind his eponymous sunglasses line, is inspiring. His glasses are unusual, provocative, something the masses wouldn’t want to buy.
Where can visitors find culture as well as clothes?
Khlebzavod is a new creative cluster in an old Constructivist building that used to bake bread. The name literally means “Bread Factory”. There are events there as well. Where does Moscow’s creative crowd hang out? Denis Simachev Bar, hands down. It’s in the centre of Moscow, is open 24 hours and it’s the place where Moscow’s creative community hang out. What’s Moscow’s best hidden gem? Tsaritsyno, Catherine the Great’s castle and park. They call it the Moscow Versailles.