Gucci’s centennial is an iconic moment that brings together 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 conversation with Roohi Jaikishan, we now have Rana Ayyub.
Rana has always had a fighter’s spirit. From being born at 900 gms in a small town of Uttar Pradesh to suffering from polio at five years old, each day brought a new struggle. The pull to journalism was natural as she was always passionate about telling stories of the oppressed and bringing hidden truths to light. There are exciting things in the pipeline for Rana—a documentary on her life and work by an Oscar-winning filmmaker and a feature film in development. She is also working on a book.
ELLE: You are bold and unafraid in your life choices, similar to what Gucci embodies. What about the spirit of the brand appeals to you?
Rana Ayyub (RA): I firmly believe that your personality should always stand out. What you wear should make you comfortable and clothes should be your second skin. My initial memory of Gucci is window shopping at their stores across airports! As a journalist, I could not afford a Gucci bag but I saw a lot of my friends flaunting outfits and accessories from the luxury design house. Their pieces are very different and to me that is what sets the brand apart and probably the reason why I am drawn to it.
ELLE: One needs immense courage to tell the stories that you do. What keeps you going?
RA: I remember going to Gujarat for relief work in 2002 and lying to my family that I was going on a trek. The intensity of the trauma I witnessed helped me realise that I have to do something for the oppressed. My father is a well-known writer so words came to me easily. At 20, I remember making a documentary on Madrasas and how they have [wrongly] been called dens of terror. I recall my professor saying, ‘You are so political!’ But when you’ve seen Islamophobia up close and it is your lived experience, telling stories that are not popular becomes vital.
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ELLE: You have managed to own your identity of a Muslim woman journalist in a space that constantly attempts to curb it.
RA: I am always made to feel apologetic for who I am. The abuse directed towards me is so gendered and communal but I am extremely proud of the unpopular and unadulterated truth I speak. It is isolating but it has taught me a lot making me equal parts vulnerable and strong. I’m currently being investigated by four agencies but somehow, I draw from a source of internal strength. I will come out of this unscathed. This fight has made me who I am.
Styling: Zoha Castellino, Photograph: Sasha Jairam, Hair & Makeup: Nishi Singh, Assisted By: Siddhi Dolas and Deepakshi Singh (For Styling)
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