Friday, May 13, 2011

FARAH ZULAIKHA: Exclusive Interview (Part 3)

By Eva Fydrych


Occupation: International model, socialite and humanitarian.
City: New York, US

FASHION STUDIO: You live in one of the most exciting cities in the world. What are your favorite places in New York and what do you like most about the city?

FARAH: I have always had a love affair with New York City. It truly is a city of dreams and it always stirred up a range of emotions from excitement to amazement. I remember visiting NYC as a little girl and gazing up in wonderment at the skyscrapers and the droves and droves of busy New Yorkers all rushing around chasing their dreams. I always knew I would live in Manhattan one day, in a big skyscraper just like the ones I used to stare at with wide young eyes. It is true what they say about New York: If you can make it here you can make it anywhere. My favorite place in New York is Battery Park. It is a short walk from my residence and it is an amazing view, especially in the evenings. The water is so beautiful and peaceful, and the entire shoreline is decorated with glittery lights complete with a breathtaking view of The Statue of Liberty! My favorite thing about NYC is the endless possibilities. Anyone from anywhere can come here and reap the opportunities this city has to offer. The possibility for success is endless and the sky is truly the limit!!!!!

FASHION STUDIO: What are your favorite shopping spots in New York?

FARAH: For shopping, I am definitely a boutique girl. I tend to avoid the large chain stores where everyone purchases the same things. I prefer more low-key boutique shopping which is where I find the unique timeless pieces that make people say "Where did you get that???" My home city of New York is great for that. I absolutely LOVE Darling boutique on Horatio Street. Former Broadway costume designer Ann French Emonts's small shop mixes fun clothing she makes herself with a selection of dresses and suits from other top designers. On Thursday nights the store stays open until 10 p.m., and shoppers are offered wine and champagne while they browse as well! What great fun and a late closing time is essential for someone like me who gets a lot of last-minute event invites. For sexy underthings I am a HUGE FAN of Agent Provocateur in SoHo. They have everything from demure French lace panty and bra sets to some very daring Swarovski-bedazzled nipple covers!!! Something for everyone, for the bold and the beautiful. I also love Patricia Field! I have had the pleasure of walking the runway for the former "Sex And The City" stylist turned designer and walked the red carpet at her amazing Valentine's Ball in New York City back in February. Her style is as colorful as her bright pink hair, and she has some very quirky and amazing pieces.

FASHION STUDIO: Describe your typical day in NYC...

FARAH: My typical day in NYC is not always so typical. I always said the peculiar thing about being a model is that you are almost like a doctor... ALWAYS ON CALL! My phone can ring at any time and it can be my agent calling me and letting me know that I booked a job or to send me on a go-see.

But normally I wake up and have a hot cup of tea and toast for breakfast. I then head over to my University and the afternoons are spent doing schoolwork. Throughout the day I will have various appointments or go-sees/fittings and will have to run to designer showrooms or magazine offices, but the great thing about living in Manhattan is that you are right in the midst of it all, so running around the city is not difficult.

One interesting fact about me (which is often the butt of many jokes at my expense) is the fact that I do not have a driver's license... in fact I never learned how to drive! This was due to the fact that I was a working model before I was old enough to drive, and in New York City most people find it unnecessary or impractical to drive. So I just take a taxi or hop on the subway. I really like to take the subway, because although it may not be the most glamorous way to travel I am someone who is EXTREMELY concerned about the environment, and to cut down on my contribution to gas emissions and pollution, this past Earth Day I pledged to take public transportation as often as possible.

The early evenings are times where I usually schedule any business meetings I may have with interested parties or with my publicist. I am also usually invited to a charity benefit or red carpet event or special appearance at LEAST once a week and on average 2-3 nights a week I will have an event to attend. On days where I have to make an appearance, I will usually have to meet with my stylist/personal shopper or a designer themselves and be dressed for the event, and then get dolled up with red carpet hair and makeup so that I may look my best for the cameras. Usually this process takes about 3 hours total, so when I'm trying to save time I have been known to do my own hair and makeup, so much that I've become quite good at it and have even learned a few tips from my makeup artist friends!

A typical day can consist of school, a photoshoot and then a red carpet event all in one day! This may seem odd but it is almost symbolic of New York itself... it's a city that takes care of business but also knows how to glam it up! 

FASHION STUDIO: Name one of your guilty pleasures.

FARAH: My guilty pleasure is one that many people would be surprised to hear, coming from a model. But it is something so simple that it really speaks volumes about my personality. Despite the intimidating supermodel image, I'm really very down to earth and a child at heart. That being said my guilty pleasure is... MCDONALD'S!!! Yes, I am a slave to the golden arches. Although it is not the healthiest meal and I try to eat as healthy as I can, it is impossible for me to resist McDonald's french fries! In fact, I have their whole menu practically memorized and my favorite meal is a #14 (filet o' fish meal), I order it every time! Although in my defense, I usually skip the sugary fizzy soda and opt for a bottle of water! :)

FASHION STUDIO: How would you describe your personality? What would your friends say about you?

FARAH: My personality can be summed up quite simply- I am a people person. I love meeting new people and I love to talk to people! I am very outgoing, friendly and not shy at all! I am usually the first person in a group to introduce myself and have a very bubbly and bright personality. My friends and family tease me all the time and call me names like "Motormouth" because at times I can be known to talk excitedly for lengthy periods of time!!! I am happiest when engaging in stimulating conversation with others. I feel like there are so many amazing people in the world each with a unique experience and I love meeting and learning about others, and also sharing my experiences with them. When I speak to someone, I want to brighten their day and leave them feeling great with a smile on their face... which is why my name "Farah" fits me perfectly! It means "joy" in Farsi, and I am happiest when I know I can bring joy to others, even if it is just from a brief conversation.

FASHION STUDIO: Who is your favorite photographer?

FARAH: My favorite photographer would have to be NYC-based Damon Hall-Booth. He is absolutely amazing and the vision and artistry with which he creates images is simply magical. He was actually the VERY FIRST photographer to ever shoot me in my career! He helped me learn so much about modeling, which angles suit me best and how to pose and make the most of my strong features. He has shot some of my most memorable images including my controversial untitled "Cross Photo," a gorgeous shot which featured me with a white and black diamond cross wedged between my teeth, my Dolce & Gabbana Summer swimwear editorial and he also shot me for the Sephora HD Makeup Forever ad campaign which was released worldwide! For beauty shots, he is the man to go to in NYC, and no one has ever made me look quite so beautiful.

FASHION STUDIO: What is in your DVD collection?

FARAH: I am a HUGE movie buff! I rarely get time to myself, but when I do I LOVE MOVIE NIGHTS, cuddled up underneath the covers with popcorn and various snacks like wasabi peas and chocolate covered raisins! My DVD collection is admittedly quite juvenile. It consists of many cartoons such as my favorite Shrek series, and other animated films like Aladdin, Monsters Vs. Aliens, and The Little Mermaid! I also love fantasy films like the Harry Potter series and of course, Twilight.

Also, I am a very big fan of 80s movies such as Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club and Heathers which are all classics that are included in my DVD collection. Last but not least I am also a huge fan of Bollywood movies!!! It may be a bit cheesy but I love everything about them from the sets to the costumes to the music/dancing and the gorgeous actresses who I always admired as a young girl. I probably have more Bollywood DVDs than any other type in my DVD collection!

FASHION STUDIO: People you admire...

FARAH: I admire anyone who is a strong individual that has made a positive impact on the world. I always admired the late Princess Diana for her kindness, beauty and grace. I would watch her as a young girl and always wanted to emulate the class and graciousness with which she carried herself. When she passed away I was heartbroken and cried for a whole entire week. I built a shrine to her in the corner of my bedroom with all of her magazine covers and dropped rose petals and lit candles for my favorite Princess.

I also admire Ivanka Trump. She is so beautiful and came from a life of glamour and privilege, yet she did not end up a trashy over-entitled uneducated celebrity train wreck like Paris Hilton or Kim Kardashian. She attended one of the most prestigious business schools in the world and is very intelligent and well-spoken. She worked her way up in the Trump Organization and has brokered many major deals for the company all on her own. She is successful in her own right and did it with dignity.

Another person whom I admire very much is Cindy Crawford. She is one of the original supermodels and she will forever be remembered for her timeless charm and beauty. In a time where most models were ridden with scandals and known for being hard-partying drug abusers, Cindy always kept her integrity and was always an amazing role model. She took her immense success from modeling and parlayed it into many lucrative businesses such as her skincare line and range of home furnishings. She is a wonderful mother to her beautiful children. On top of that, she has miraculously not aged a BIT since her days as a supermodel and I hope to look as well-preserved when I am her age!

FASHION STUDIO: What's the best advice ever given to you? Do you usually listen to other people's advice or do you prefer to make your own decisions?

FARAH: The best advice ever given to me is also my favorite quote. I usually tend to follow my own advice as one should always take heed to their heart and gut feeling, but it is also foolish to believe that one knows all and that one cannot gain valuable knowledge from others. My favorite quote would be "Happiness is a choice." I heard this quote from an elderly Vietnam War veteran whom I had the pleasure of chatting with at a charity event. It was a quote that was so simple but still always stuck out in my mind. And it is very true. Often times people make poor choices in life and end up in a place where they do not want to be and are unhappy yet they wonder why they are not content with their lives. What they fail to realize is that our actions govern our fate and in order to get where you want to be you must make the right decisions and choices in life. Much like a car must make the proper turns and follow directions to get to a destination, so must an individual make the proper choices to attain fulfillment and contentment. And it is never too late to make the decision to be happy. Once one decides to be happy, the rest seems to fall into place.

FASHION STUDIO: What are your resolutions for 2011?

FARAH: My resolutions for 2011 are to stay focused and continue to work hard at everything I do, from my modeling to my studies and my charity work. I wish to accomplish all of my goals and set my sights high on new goals and accomplishments. With my determination, the help and support of my loved ones and the grace of God, I am confident that I will do just that.

FASHION STUDIO: Farah, thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule and sharing your thoughts with us! All the best with your future plans. With your determination and positive attitude I'm sure you can achieve anything you want.

FARAH: Thanks so much, Eva, and please send lots of love from me to all of my Canadian readers!

By Eva Fydrych
All photos courtesy of Farah Zulaikha

"I always say LIVE WITH NO REGRETS. Everything happens for a reason and your past shapes you into the person you are in your present and your future." - Farah Zulaikha


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