UNRESERVED Portraits: Farah Khan

The fashion designer and Melium Group founder talks indulgences, happiness and advice on how to overcome failure.
Friday 23 March 2018
Photo: Farah Khan Private Collection

Founder and president of the Melium Group, powerhouse Datuk Seri Dr Farah Khan is a woman who has an intense interest in people and a serious case of wanderlust. Not only has she spearheaded the company since its inception 29 years ago, but she has also maintained her position as the creative director of her namesake fashion brand. Gracing the catwalk with fantastical sequined wonders of fashion, the Farah Khan brand has climbed the ladder of the fashion world and made a name for itself. A people person to heart, she holds children’s causes dear in her heart and has raised over RM13 million for various charities over the years and will continue to support those in need.

What’s your greatest indulgence?
For me it’s definitely getting what I want when I want it, for sure.

What is your current state of mind?
I think I feel very inspired at the moment, should have asked me last week, but right now I feel very inspired.

Is there any instance where you find it acceptable to lie?
I don’t lie.

What is a trait you admire most in a man?
Strength. I need a man to have strength. That’s the way I see men.

What is a trait you admire most in a woman?
Gentleness and kindness, I’m still very old fashioned.

What is your most overused phrase or word?
Sayang. Sometimes I call my driver sayang, but you know I say sayang because it’s just who I am, I actually sayang people you know, so I say sayang as a common word.

When and where were you happiest?
As a child because as a child I believed that everything would happen, I had rose coloured tinted glasses, and I just thought everything was so wonderful and I woke up to the real world as I grew up.

Is there a talent you wish you had?
The funny thing is I’ve always loved music, so I think I would have liked to be a singer, but a really really good one.

What would you change about yourself, if you could pick one thing?
I think I’d like to perhaps be a little more erratic and passionate, and show my passion. I’m just such a calm person and I’m not sure it’s been good for me.

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Datuk Seri Farah Khan’s colourful Cuba adventure in December 2017 (Photo: Farah Khan Private Collection)

What has been your greatest achievement?
My son. I have a special needs son and I think I have learned so much about patience and taking care of him, and I think that for me is my biggest achievement. He’s 27 now, so every day is a different day.

If you could be reborn as anything, what would you be reborn as?
Definitely a butterfly, because I’d love to fly all over and see the people I love. Like being a fly on the wall, a butterfly on the wall, still looking beautiful and have nice wings and everything. I love travelling and I think a butterfly can go anywhere, anytime and be welcome.

Where would you most love to live?
Oh, I love so many places in the world. I suppose I’d like in between a special Island in the Greek Islands called Hydra. I’d live between Hydra, Capri, Bali, and Kuala Lumpur, where my best friends are.

What would make you miserable?
I think I would be miserable if I was alone, I seriously just love people, so I like being amongst people, so I’d be miserable alone.

What is your most significant feature?
I suppose I’m determined, but I don’t know if it’s marked. But determination is definitely, I’m a warrior definitely, I’m not a worrier, warrior not worrier, I don’t sit around and worry about things, I stand up and I fight, so I’m very determined.

What would you say success is to you?
I think success comes to us at different times of our life, and different types of success, but success for me personally is being the person that you want to be, because we constantly want to be someone and that’s why we strive, that’s why we have the passion and that’s why we have the interest to constantly improve ourselves, so I think that for me that would be it.

What would you say failure is to you?
Failure, I’ve had lots of failures in my life, I mean gosh, more than my fair share. But as I’m a determined and very inspired person, I accept failure right in the face, and say, “I’m gonna get up and go, that was a failed mission.”

What is your motto in life?
Live and let live. I think we can never understand, it’s very difficult, people always judge everywhere they go, every time they see things. I live and let live because I think we don’t really know what it is do we? Do we really understand what’s around us? Every minute of the day, we don’t have all the facts.

What is a characteristic that you abhor in yourself?
I think I’m impatient.

What is a characteristic that you abhor in others?
When they’re indecisive. I can’t stand people who can’t decide.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Being a nice guy, someone who accommodates everything, it’s so overrated. I like people who are themselves.

This article first appeared in the April 2018 issue of UNRESERVED.