'I’m very nomadic. I grew up in Florida—in Biscayne and Miami—and also in Moscow. I’ve lived in Dubai and Switzerland—I went to boarding school there. I went to college in New York, but I’m from Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, so I’m a mix of Central Asia. I’m so used to transitions, they’re absolutely normal and something I just accept. Now my home is between Moscow, I would say, and New York, but Moscow is kind of my base. It’s a beautiful place with so much history and so much beautiful culture, so much warmth. As much as there’s coldness, there’s also warmth from the Russian people. They’re so friendly, and they love to have guests.
In Russia, it’s rude to wear blue jeans to dinner. The culture is all about wearing dresses, sky-high heels, and when you come in wearing jeans, boots, a leather jacket, and a beanie, people are like, ‘OK, you’re in the wrong place.’ But I love to be different. Russia is getting there. It’s a little bit more low-key now, and still I think it’s beautiful that people actually care to dress up for the ballet. But to go to a club? No, honey!
Normally, I love to just dance, whether it’s reggae, hip-hop…or sometimes I like house music and concerts, festivals. Wherever the good music’s at, I’m there. I never plan on going out, unless it’s some kind of event that I have to be at for work—that’s different. I work with emerging designers. I contribute to this wonderful website called Space Matters, a digital atelier where inspirational women share ideas. I dedicate my day to that, my consulting company, and some freelance projects I get to have on the side.
Usually, I’ll have a few pieces in mind when I start actually dressing up to go out, but it all depends on my mood. But I always think ‘Should I wear short heels or no heels?’ To me, that’s important—if you’re dancing a lot you don’t need heels. And when a shoe makes every outfit, you’re just like…it’s spot on. Like these Saint Laurent glitter Mary Janes—they have such a comfortable, small heel that you can in dance all night long. You can wear something so casual with them and it still looks like you’re going out.
It probably takes me 15 to 20 minutes to get ready, not so long. Before I go out, my number one rule is I never, ever brush my hair. I don’t own a hairbrush. I basically just wash it, put it in a bun—with two little pigtails in the front and two on the side—then make them into one big ponytail and then a bun. After an hour, I shake it out. Sometimes you wake up and your hair looks amazing and you try to find clothes to complement the hair. If I’m doing a denim look for the evening and I have on a white top, I like to put my hair up and just wear red lipstick. If I leave it down—like beach waves—I’ll wear a flow-y, bohemian kind of dress. But with makeup, the craziest I can do on myself is red lipstick. Though for a shoot once they gave me smudged eyes that looked amazing. I was like a rock star for a day.
My main approach is to take care of my skin with oils and then add a bit of bronzer on top. I love Nars Bronzing Powder in Laguna and Casino. If I’m really tan, I’ll go for the darker one, and in the wintertime I go for the lighter one. I love the glow it gives—it doesn’t have much shimmer, but it has that glow.
I love argan oil, I love rosehip oil, I love coconut oil—it’s like God’s gift to this planet! I’ll put coconut oil in my hair. I actually like to do that in the summer at the beach. That’s the best thing. Also, beer helps a lot with a tan. I’ll just put beer on my body—a bunch of my friends do it, too. If I drink one while I’m tanning, I’ll spill a little bit on myself. It gives a very beautiful tan.
Sometimes I mix the Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer in Medium 1 and the Hourglass Hidden Corrective Concealer to get the perfect shade. I use it on my spots or under my eyes to even out the skin tone. I love, love, love lip balms. In my bag there are always different ones. The Dior Creme de Rose Smoothing Lip Balm is hard to find, so when I do find it I stock up—I think they have it at Saks or something. I love the smell so much and I just love that it’s glossy. I also love the RMS Lip and Skin Balm in Simple Vanilla. What’s great about it is that you can also put it on your eyelids—it’s this really fresh look and I love it.
For going out, I have the Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Cruella. The shade is super perfect and very easy. I’ve never tried any other red because it’s so hard to actually find the perfect shade. It’s matte—it dries your skin out sometimes, so I add lip balm on top. If I’m super daring—like, crazy—I’ll use the Temptu Color True Lipstick in Gel Rouge. I smudge the Nars Noir Soft Touch Shadow Pencil on my eyes—it’s a little shimmery, like a golden shimmer—also very beautiful. I sometimes use the RMS Lip2Cheek in Smile on my lips, and I’ll use it very lightly on my cheeks. My favorite nail polish color is Lavishly Loved by CND and I usually carry it with me if I’m going to get my nails done. It stays on and dries in like 10 minutes. It’s the exact color of my nails so it looks like I don’t have any nail polish on.
I use Crystal Deodorant. To me, it’s like, if you believe it works, it will work. I also use Agent Nateur, an organic deodorant. I combine them. I think that when you go out, no matter your outfit, even if you don’t have any makeup on, you always have to smell good. The perfume I use is called Black Saffron by Byredo. It’s quite dark and it gets better after a few minutes as it opens.
When I come home I remove my makeup with coconut oil, always. I try to wash my face with cold water because it’s apparently very good for your pores, and it also wakes you up. Sometimes I’ll use the light Hydrating Facial Moisturizer from Forest Essentials, an Ayurvedic Indian company. It smells amazing! The texture is a little bit watery—when you put it on, your face absorbs it but is a little bit moist…it’s perfect. Whenever anyone I know goes to India, I ask them to get me Forest Essentials.
Then maybe I’ll have some water with lemon. Sometimes if I’m feeling super tired, I’ll put some cucumber on my eyes. Sometimes I’ll put a mask on, like those Egyptian clay masks, but that’s it—I’ll go to sleep. In the morning, they say you shouldn’t wash your face, only your eyes, because the oil that’s been made overnight keeps you looking young…so they say. Sometimes I try it, sometimes I don’t.”
—as told to ITG
Aziza Azim photographed by Tom Newton in New York City on August 18, 2015. Video edited by Hannah Hafey.