Trailblazers To Celebrate Gucci’s Beloved Collection: Fariha Ansari Javed On Her Fashion Sensibilities & More
"For work, I always wear a suit paired with heels. It makes me feel powerful."
Gucci’s centennial is an iconic moment that brings together a nostalgic appreciation for the rich heritage and the joy of a new beginning. It’s only fitting then that this celebratory moment be catalysed by the spirit of inspiration from a unique mix of women role models—all high achievers in their own right. They own their identity; fashion is purely a progression of that expression, which explains why Gucci is their go-to. Path-breaking, passionate, bold—and that’s just where the overlap begins. Following our conversations with Roohi Jaikishan, Rana Ayyub, Samyukta Nair, Akansha Ranjan Kapoor and Noelle Kadar, we now have Fariha Ansari Javed.
With over nineteen years of leadership experience across finance, government and nonprofits, Fariha is a trailblazer like no other. She spent more than a decade at Wall Street, first as an Underwriter at AIG Global Marine and Energy and then at Zurich Insurance Services managing a multi-billion-dollar portfolio. Fariha then landed the job of a lifetime at the Turkish Prime Minister’s office leading all foreign direct investments from India. As of a couple of months ago, she has assumed another leadership role, this time as the head of strategic development at Toffee Insurance. She gives us the low down on what it takes to make it in the world of business.
ELLE: How would you describe your fashion sensibilities?
Fariha Ansari Javed (FAJ): Back in college, in Massachusetts, I dressed like a happy little girl. My style was defined by New York. The women around me were always so well dressed—dignified, composed, stately. It was everything I wanted to be. I couldn’t afford it at the time so every year I’d aspire to something a little more, fashion-wise. When I was at the Turkish Prime Minister’s office, as per protocol, I was always in conservative suits. However, once I moved to Delhi, I started hoarding designer clothes, bags and shoes. I still love to invest in designer pieces but now they’re more understated and well-tailored. For work, I always wear a suit paired with heels. It makes me feel powerful.
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ELLE: What’s your favourite Gucci memory?
FAJ: The Indian President had made a trip to Turkey [when I was working there] and we had this massive dinner party. I remember, I specifically bought a beautiful Gucci dress for the occasion and felt like a million bucks.
ELLE: As a woman in business, specifically in finance, what are some of the challenges you faced? How would you define your way of doing business?
FAJ: In India, when I would go to meetings, especially with middle management, I often felt they were waiting for my male counterpart to arrive. It seemed like they were uncomfortable talking numbers to me. In that sense, yes, I did face gender bias. I have two thumb rules: The first is to have a sense of purpose and understanding both your company’s as well as your own. Having an alignment between the two is essential to being a leader. The second would be authenticity—you have to be real and empathetic. If you can relate to people at a human level, you can build resilience within your teams, setting them up for success.
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Styling: Zoha Castellino, Photograph: Nayantara Parikh, Hair & Makeup: Leeview Biswas, Assisted By: Siddhi Dolas and Deepakshi Singh (For Styling)
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