Troy Gomez and Billie Green Bring Their Designs to Austin
Immaterial features two of Texas’ most visionary fashion designers
By James Scott,
5:21PM, Tue. Jul. 2, 2019
Fashion becomes a product of its creators and their experiences the way any art does. The people out there designing what society wears are, in a sense, designing what a society cares about, and therefore must be people with vision – an ability to see the hot, the now, the chic beyond chic.
Billie Green and Troy Gomez are two Texas trans women blessed by such vision and they’re designing fashion for a world consumed by a desire to defy.
Gomez’s fashion house, Immaterial, is built on defiance of concepts themselves. Even in her personal style, Gomez says her “high fashion” taste is a symptom of an overall distaste for monotony. “I’m not trying to stick to one thing,” she reasons. The Corpus Christi designer's summation of Immaterial is a fashion line free of limitation, influenced heavily by the theory of immaterialism in the sense of “how nothing really matters except for things that aren’t material … creativity, love.” Building pieces created from “your feelings, your wants, [and] your aspirations” is how Gomez constructs fashion for a society she desires – unbidden by typical Texas gendered expectations, yet rife with the tart taste of femininity. “I am a feminine trans woman,” Gomez proclaims. “I can do whatever I want whenever I want … I’m trying not to abide by anyone’s rules except for my own and the only rule … is that there are no rules.”
Where Gomez marks her designs through absence of category, Green – from San Antonio – creates her fashion through commitment to craft and sensation. Previous collections saw her interpret the women in her family to fabric and leather (one notable design being “a swimsuit that had bones cut out of leather that [resembled] a miscarried baby” representing a historical lineage of miscarriages), but her vision has since changed. Fashion now morphs in Green’s creations to be a tool of magnification for her skills rather than art with “some deep meaning behind it.” Taking from her previous tailoring work where she did “immaculate hand sewing on these $1,000 gowns,” Green crafts pieces which reflect an inner perfectionism as well as the tightrope of transgender presentation. Her process often begins with a song, before contextualizing the emotive resonance of the music into the physical of fashion. Her goal: Spark a reaction in the viewer as being in “a point in time, a totally different world.” With incredible technical ability, Green constructs her pieces in the shape of awe; creations for society to be struck by “how well I can sew and make beautiful, stunning things.” She pauses before clarifying a crucial addition to the vision of both hers and Gomez’s collections: “And it’s coming from a trans woman.”
Inherent in both women’s work is a critique of oppressive expectations of trans-feminine presentation, which Gomez explains is present in the many social circles of Texas including the LGBTQ community – a barrier that shuts many trans women out of the discussion. Their fashion show (taking place July 6 at Native Hostel), she continues, will not be one that shuts out any trans woman for gender performance: “We’re only going to uplift the girls who … want the best for each other.” Embracing the trans experience is everything to Gomez, who says her intelligence, her creativity, and her risk-taking stem from her trans identity.
In agreement, Green adds that these experiences inspire not just their shared rejection of “societal feminine standards,” but also a deeper appreciation within her, personally, for Gomez’s style, which she describes as “so out-of-this-world. It’s supreme.” She says “meeting young artists like Troy … younger trans women who are so young and so unafraid” has been truly inspiring. “I just want to be a role model now.” Her collection acts both as a rediscovery point for “the strong person I really am to the core,” and also for the woman she’s becoming through Gomez’s out-of-this-world influence. In summarizing her fashion show partner, Green states, “This girl knows what’s happening next.”
Gomez acknowledges her own transformation through working with Green by noting a more precise eye toward the technical and heavier emphasis on being “much more professional and … complete.” Observation of Green’s well-rounded sense of style and collection as well as integration of her lessons on “sewing a garment and taking your time and really appreciating it” has led Gomez to a place of greater appreciation of fashion craft. “I think she’s teaching me to be really patient,” Gomez concludes.
On Saturday, July 6, both women will feature their collections in the Immaterial Fashion Show. If you’re looking to elevate the design of your world, viewing the fashion feats of Billie Green and Troy Gomez is a perfect place to start. Oh, and Gomez adds, “There’s going to be an open bar,” in case you need the extra push.