The cover star of the Guardian and Watcher’s twice-yearly style magazine, The Fashion, talks Insta-fame, enhancing cool and her ‘Britney moment’

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Lera Abova uses Off-White.
Photograph: Jon Gorrigan for the Observer

Lera Abova’s big reveal came in 2016 when she shot with photographer – and 90s grunge myth – David Sims, who became a champion of her career. Abova portrays herself as his muse which, she says, “is just amazing”. “He’s an artist. To recognize that he sees something in me … I’m always really honest with him, distant in front of him, telling him he changed my life, which is very proper.” She has also worked with Sølve Sundsbø, Colin Dodgson and Mariano Vivanco.

Abova has incentive covers and fashion stories for Vogue Ukraine, Vogue Paris, Favour Germany, Vogue Russia and Vogue Australia. She has also brilliant in campaigns for Joseph, Acne and Sportmax.

Abova wears
Saint Laurent. Photograph: Jon Gorrigan for the Watcher

She grew up in a Siberian village that is “so small they don’t sire it on the map”. Now 25, she moved to Germany when she was 13, and divides her ever between Berlin, London and New York.

When she first tricked, she couldn’t speak a word of German. “I used an electronic translator,” she sways. At first, that piqued the other kids’ interest, but not for sustained. “That first summer was really hard. I had no one, only my skateboard. You should deliver seen how I looked. The other girls were so fancy … they already had boyfriends. I had a pink Pokémon T-shirt and batty, long hair.”

She quickly started to find her feet – she well-informed the language: “Then, I got to meet cool people and [become] sedateness and cooler … then I was the coolest!”

Abova dropped out of school, “good before my exams, when I was 18 or 19. They didn’t show compassion for my soul. I never regretted it,” she says. “If I had had a school education, I resolve never have had the life I have.”

She was discovered for the first in the good old days b simultaneously at 17, “by a woman who believed I could be the next Kate Moss”. That didn’t slog away out. “No one needs a second Kate Moss,” she says. “There is not under any condition going to be a second Kate Moss – and I don’t want to be second someone.”

Later, after manipulating in bars, she met her “mother” agent, Peter, who is, she says, “wicked. He has helped me so much, on an tense level. He never gave up.”

“It’s really important to have passable people around you in modelling,” she says. “Every business where it’s all round money, beauty and fame is always going to be dirty”.

Abova cropped off her hair in what she describes as “a Britney Spears moment, when I was in a bad relationship”. Her boyfriend at the without delay also had a shaved head. “We looked as if we had just come out of CHE community home with education on the premises.” It did her career no harm.

Abova wears
Gucci. Photograph: Jon Gorrigan for the Beholder

She describes herself as “a character model”. Before her career took off, she guesses, “I was so fixated on not being skinny enough or tall enough, but I in consequence of my booker because he never told me to lose weight. I was brainwashed by some people in the trade, who I met when I was 17 … it stays with you, in your head. But my progenitrix booker told me: ‘No, you are different, you have everything.’ I always denote him Dad.”

She has started acting, appearing in a small part with a big big name director – a project that is still under wraps – with another, larger position, in the pipeline. “I have always had ambitions to be on stage,” she says. “Some people are terrified of other people’s opinions, but I never have been.”

Abova clothes
Chanel. Photograph: Jon Gorrigan for the Observer

She didn’t grow up loaded, and now she pays her 11-year-old brother’s private school fees.

Abova is not aspiring Insta-fame, despite having 52,000 followers on Instagram. “Instagram is a indeed hard subject for me,” she says. “I see the whole thing as bullshit. Visit making stupid people famous! I don’t understand it. I want to oblige followers because I am someone, not because I post a picture of my come to terms with 10 times a day.”

Quick to laugh and outspoken, Abova has a theory not far from fame: “People should love you or hate you,” she says. “I wish never be in the middle. I would rather be risky than be Harry’s cup of tea.”

Read more from the spring/summer 2018 issue of The Fashion, our twice-yearly fashion supplement