The day I met Shaira I just had to bring up that Promil “Trio” commercial from 1995 which featured her as one of the genius kids talking about the solar system. I was completely amused that the cute, chubby kid was this charming albeit gothic girl waiting at the Citibank pantry with me. We were to shoot the bank executives for the paper I used to write for. I’m sure she got asked that question a zillion times by every acquaintance, yet she handled it graciously and laughed along with the memory. We had lunch after and I was pleasantly surprised at how normal, funny and quirky she was–talking about anything and everything–and how she quickly made me feel at ease.
Fast forward to a few years and we found each other again shooting for a retail store catalogue month after month, bonding over clothes, shoot food, movies and the different personalities we dealt with. Working with her was a breeze, she had a way about her that made people gravitate towards that big, cheerful smile and ready hug. The editor in me noticed her outfits, too: modern day grunge-meets-twisted preppy-meets-thrift shop treasures. It was fun anticipating what she’d wear next.
When SOS was merely an idea, I thought of people who had very distinct styles that would be interesting to dress out of their usual. Shaira came to mind–I don’t think I’ve ever seen her in anything remotely brand new or high-street. So I asked her to come in her usual garb, took a photo for posterity and proceeded to turn her into a prim and proper lady in one shot and trendy normcore in another. She gamely posed and wore whatever I tossed her way, not missing a beat. The results were refreshing and proved that this genius kid looks good in just about anything.
Photos by Cholo dela Vega.