Sarah Lahbati-Gutierrez Inspires a New Year & New Mood
Goodbye to 2021, hello to a brand new you in 2022—in the eyes of the forever cool girl and now wife and mom of two, Sarah Lahbati-Gutierrez in the season’s latest Louis Vuitton pieces
Early morning on a Wednesday and Sarah Lahbati-Gutierrez is way too early for a shoot. It’s a little too dark in the morning to see that her hair has transitioned from being dirty blonde to pastel pink. She’s wearing a high neck white tee belted over tapered leather pants paired with a mid-length boxy blazer whose sleeve extends beyond her tiny wrist. This time she’s not folding it for comfort, the oversized feel is the effect she’s going for. Hanging on the crook of her arm is the Louis Vuitton OnTheGo GM tote in Monogram Empreinte Giant—the new queen of carry-everythings.
“It’s a little smoky here,” she observes. Later on, it was revealed that the dramatic lighting created that effect, as if giving Sarah the machinations of a fog machine as she enters the frame.
There’s indeed some fanfare when it comes to Sarah. You might not realize it, but she marks the bookends of the pandemic for Metro. Our last cover shoot, released in February 2020, just in time for her wedding, marked the end of an era of photoshoots where people could go in without quarantine or testing, or even share a tray of pasta. It was a time of smiles, when you could see people’s mouths and faces in full because they weren’t wearing masks or shields. When hugging and beso during a shoot was the norm.
That transition also proved difficult for Sarah, because she and her husband, Richard Gutierrez, scaled down their grand wedding celebration to make adjustments for the anticipated lockdown.
After more than a year and eight months in on-and-off lockdown, Sarah likewise marks a new transition for Metro, this time as the cover girl for our New Year kickoff, our muse who ushers in and welcomes in the new year, bringing in a new kind of energy to the season.
It’s Time For a New Mood
Sarah always has the pulse on the hottest trend. She’s often ahead of everyone else: Whether it’s cutting her hair in a chic bob before it became the new look for the year, or embracing the great outdoors via biking and glamping with her husband Richard Gutierrez, or going all-out with pink hair which brings her closer to the pantone of the year, Very Peri—she’s already on it.
She seems to have a sixth sense to what’s new and what’s next, and she does it with so much ease because she has been living her life on her own terms in the past few years. She had her pregnancy, marriage, and work arrangements decisions all on her own. Her style as well, is her creation, decisions are shaped by miniscule creative decisions.
“I feel like I need to express myself through anything, you know, that ends with art. Whether it’s a shoot or coloring my hair or chopping my hair off, or having fun with fashion. That’s one way to have fun with life, where we’re having fun,” she says.
It brings to mind how she meticulously checked each look, each hair and makeup pairing, just to give the right effect. She’s just having fun with it!
“We’re not thinking about responsibilities or deadlines or whatever, and this is for me where I can do that,” she admits at how the process sets her free. “I know it sounds a bit shallow, but this is sort of like art to me where I get to create with creative people and work with amazing photographers and work with all these different designers and brands, and collaborate for fashion or art. It’s always fun,” she adds.
Her Evolving Style
Fashion, for her, is an outlet, with Sarah often seen playing around with new looks and motifs in her social media sites. As someone who is consistently in the Metro Most Stylish list, we have seen how her personal style has evolved through the years. Now, she is more experimental, more directional.
Even during the shoot, she opted to try the Louis Vuitton looks first to get her into the mood. There was the Oversized Zipper Skater dress in red matched with the trendy and bold Coussin with the Monogram-embossed lambskin leather in black and red, or the Monogram Pixel Tank dress from F/W ’21-’22 with tricolor trimming around the arms and scoop neck which brings to mind activewear but with party-glam gladiator feels with the paneled hemline. These two looks she matched with her own Archlight Slingback pumps.
Having Sarah react to the clothes formed part of the collaboration process that we magazine editors love—the moodboard is just a take-off point but what truly takes things from ordinary to extraordinary is the process of consultation, collaboration, and editing that takes place during a photoshoot. She brought in her own perspective, shaped by her years in show business and modeling, and from her frequent travels between Manila and Switzerland, where she is originally from.
“I think at a young age, I would always sneak into my mom’s closet. And just like, open her closet, check what’s there. I would try on her blazers or my dad’s blazers. And then I remember when I was probably 17, 16, she gave me this beautiful corset. It’s orange and silky. And I remember just seeing it again and wearing it at 24, 25,” she recalls this beautiful memory about clothes.
“And that’s when it all started, with my mom—just going through her clothes, her makeup, her hair brushes—having fun while trying on her clothes,” she says.
One tip she learned from her mother Esther though is that one should always enjoy the process.
“My mom knows how to have fun with her clothes, but she’s always like… just show the right amount of skin. Never too much, never too little,” she shares.
With her evolving style, it’s interesting to see how Sarah’s closet staples are on the casual side—with sweatpants. Cool sweatpants, that is. “I love good sneakers. I love good boots you can wear with jeans… not too warm for this tropical country,” she adds.
She has a personal relationship with her clothes, and in a way, it speaks about who she is at every point in her life.
“I’d say that I’m pretty proud of what I’ve been wearing compared to the last decade,” she says. “I just try to have fun with [it] and try not to take it too seriously!”
This shoot is even more special for her, because it involves wearing clothes from a brand that she loves.
“I love that Louis Vuitton is always sort of boyish, but slightly feminine at the same time. Just sort of sporty, eccentric, sporty, cool, with a bit of masculinity but a touch of femininity on it. It’s a lot of those things that I love when it comes to putting an outfit together,” she adds.
The mix of masculine and feminine actually capture the personality of Sarah which not many are privy to. For one thing, she loves the outdoors and adventures, as seen from her off-grid outdoor glamping adventure for her 28th birthday. A surprise from Richard, he took her to a campsite in Tanay, Rizal, and had her experience “bumpy and muddy roads to fresh air, mountains, and rivers.”
“I think anything related to feeding my adrenaline junkie little soul makes me really happy. Chard and I love scuba diving, free-diving, and recently, we’ve been doing a lot of motocross which has been superduper fun for the whole family,” she says of her activities. It’s not at all surprising because she’s always with boys, with her sons Zion, 8, and Kai, 3. “It’s nice when you get to find a hobby that you guys can, you know, grow as a family. Where you guys can learn and have fun at the same time.” Zion is currently doing soccer again, while doing motocross at least once or twice a week.
She’s quite hands-on with the kids, especially with their online classes. Even during her interview in Metro Chats, she mentioned that homeschooling has taken a big part of her schedule.
“Transitioning to whatever I was doing before, to suddenly becoming a teacher was definitely interesting. I think all moms can agree. But you know, it’s 2021, the year is ending, I’ve adjusted. I think most of us have adjusted to a new normal. And what’s more important, I think the kids are really resilient and they’ve really gotten used to this new normal and we’re all just trying our best to live day by day and take it one step at a time,” she shares.
That acceptance of the situation has helped Sarah get her priorities straight. She knew she had to take a step back from mainstream showbiz because the schedule wouldn’t allow it.
“I’ve been taking a step back from acting because I’m prioritizing being at home with the kids. I think, right now, the taping or shooting situation’s very different. You have to be locked in for a month or so somewhere, and you’re not really allowed to go in and out or have visitors, so I’d rather be a teacher for now, and we’ll see what’s next for me next year,” she says with a smile.
A Hopeful 2022
The parties, events, shoots, and tapings might have slowed down a bit for Sarah, but she’s exactly where she wants to be.
“I try to make each day count, especially during this time. It’s so easy to sort of take advantage of our day-to-day life. The one thing I learned is to really slow down and appreciate the little things because so many people lost loved ones. And just a lot of things happened that makes you appreciate life even more.” she says.
“I’m just trying to really grasp every single moment as I live my day-to-day life, whether I’m doing something boring or just being with the family, or at work. I’m trying to make it special and make it count,” she adds.
Like us, she looks back at her 2021 filled with a lot of happy memories.
“Highlight of 2021—face shields are gone!” she says with a laugh. “We were also able to leave the country which was so shocking, and I’m so grateful up to this day that we were able to go to Switzerland,” she shares of her family trip back to Geneva to visit her father. They went to all the picturesque travel spots such as Lausanne, Interlaken, and Lake Brienz, one of the filming locations of Crash Landing on You. “Sometimes the wrong train takes you to the right direction….” she said in her IG quote, even sharing how she got lost several times just to find the exact spot where Captain Ri played the piano on a dock, with Sarah dragging Richard along to make her dream come true.
“From the house to the airport, to landing in Geneva—it was just surreal. I couldn’t believe we were traveling again. So I think that was such a big highlight this year for the family and I.”
This year might have been slower and uneventful compared to the last, but she also had a lot of realizations about herself.
“What I discovered about myself in 2021 is that I’m very resilient and that I can adapt well to difficult situations. In 2021, I’ve learned not to sweat the small stuff,” she says proudly.
Likewise, she has so many hopes for 2022.
“I hope it is a year full of love, a better year for everyone. 2021 has been slowly becoming a better year. I know we’re ending the year soon, but I’m hoping the world overall gets better, and for this pandemic to ‘shoo away’ and for things to slowly get back to normal,” she says. A caveat though: Not too quickly, she hopes. Because if things are moving too fast, it can also get overwhelming.
But right now, the pace is just right. There is a new kind of energy in the air, there is hope for the future, there is resolution in the past. Sarah brings forth our hopes and dreams for 2021—let it be colorful, grand, and all sorts of wonderful. Happy New Year everyone!
Photography by Dookie Ducay
Videography by Pat Buenaobra
Creative direction by Patrick Ty
Makeup by Denise Go-Ochoa
Hairstyling by Brent Sales
Styling by Edlene Cabral
Production design by James Razo
Sittings editors: Geolette Esguerra and Justin Convento
Special thanks to Jeanger Navarro of Louis Vuitton