Fashion is the knight in shining armor for queer and trans people. We use it as armor against an unpredictable and vicious world or as an expressive cloak to connect with others like us. Vire can attest to the power of fashion transforming her life and leading to her discovering her authenticity. Cosplay and drag were the gateways to transness which centers around a yandere akuma (aka crazy demon girlfriend) aesthetic. We talked to the recent fashion school graduate about attending college during the pandemic, why drag queens Brooklyn Height, Trinity the Tuck, and Plastique Tiara are obsessed with worbla, and where trans people can find jobs that are somewhat safe and affirming. Read more below.
Kai: Can you tell me a little bit about who you are, how you identify, what you do - who is Vire?
Vire: I’m a fashion design student, first and foremost. I just graduated. Fashion art is where my passion really lies. I also do nightlife and performing. Originally, my main goal in life was to be a drag queen, but as I found myself I ended up going towards transitioning.
I love the art of transitioning. It’s only been a year and nine months. I moved two years ago and seeing all these beautiful trans sisters gave me the push.
Kai: Where did you move from?
Vire: I moved from Santa Cruz, California. It's in the Bay Area. Oh,
Kai: Oh, cute. My brother lives near there. He lives in Aromas. Do you know where that is?
Vire: Aromas? Yes. Oh my gosh. So close, probably like 10 minutes away.
Kai: Definitely not a big trans population there.
Vire: Oh, definitely not. Not at all. There's nobody. I didn’t meet my first trans friend until I had already transitioned for a year.
I met her here in LA through a mutual. We were just roller skating together. When I met her, it pushed me to go into nightlife and expand my skills. Before meeting her, I wasn't into exotic dancing.
I wasn't involving myself with the community at all either. I was staring from afar. If that makes sense.
Kai: How was that journey for you? At what point were you like ”I wanna be fem and a woman all the time.”
Vire: I love the dramatics of drag queen, but I didn’t know if I wanted to be that drama all the time. Sometimes I want to be a little dimmed down.
I figured myself out because I would be in my boy self and I wouldn't feel happy unless I had heels on. I wouldn't feel happy unless I had some sort of feminine outfit on.
That’s when I realized being a woman would make my happiness come true.After I started doing hormones I knew 110% - a thousand percent, it was the right thing to do. Drag helped me visualize my transition.
I still really want to do drag. Now that I've established what I want, my drag persona is a yandere akuma, a crazy demon girlfriend.
Kai: That gothy phase is something that we all move through. Whether it's before or what we're into now, there's something inherently trans about that gothy princess character.
Vire: Oh my God. Yes. It's been a decade since the scene kid, era. I was never that scene queen. I was the scene king. I want to be the scene queen now.
Kai: Right. I also caught, as you were saying, did you say gyaru akuma?
Vire: Oh, yandere.
Kai: Oh, okay. That's Japanese, right?
Vire: Yes. I'm half Japanese and half Latin.
Kai: Do you feel like your cultural upbringing has impacted your transness or transitioning?
Vire: The first time that I felt happy was when I was eight years old or so. There's a Japanese festival called Obon, the celebration of the dead. And I was one of the dancers for several years. I was identified as male at the time, and I didn't get to do the whole get-up with the hair and makeup. I was always envious of the dolls.
That was one of the moments I realized I really love femininity.
Kai: Gender euphoria.
Vire: Yeah, I believe so.
Kai: That moment when you first put on a dress or when you had that first experience putting on lipstick or anything feminine, you're like, “This is it. This is what feels good and natural.”
Vire: That moment is so beautiful.
Kai: So where did Vire come from?
Vire: The first time I felt happy was when I put on a cinderella dress and heels. That happened when was five years old. I translated that to the Roman numeral, V. Then my full name is Vire, which is a take on Virgo, which is my sign.
Kai: I love that. And I also love trans people in general, how we all have these new personas that we create for ourselves, whether it's a new name or a new look, or a new kind of fantasy version of ourselves that's almost like larger than life.
Where did your interest in fashion design come from?
I really love avant-garde silhouettes, sharp edges, volume, and luminous fabrics like organza and satin.
Vire: My first interest in fashion was the kimono. After that, I ended up merging my interest in fashion and design. I was 15 when I started going to conventions in cosplay, and I would make my costumes. Back then, cosplays weren’t as easily accessible as they are now. We had to make everything ourselves, especially if we wanted to stay on trend.
I would go to conventions three times a year. I would go to Fanime, which is in San Jose. I would go to Sac Anime in Sacramento. And then I would go to the cherry blossom festival in San Francisco. My fashion passion came from making costumes, and costume designing.
That lasted until 2019. And that year was when I decided to put together a portfolio of everything I made. I submitted it to FIT here in LA. I got accepted in 2019, and then I was preparing to move.
It taught me a lot of things. Like how to make things from film, how to use special mediums, like a worbla.
Kai: What happened? What was that? A war plot?
Vire: Worbla. It's a special type of plastic that a lot of designers use now. Back then it was only cosplayers using it. It's basically a plastic sheet, and it's pretty thick.
It comes in a big sheet, and then you're supposed to get a heat gun, and you can cut through it. You can heat it, and it will mold to whatever shape you want it. It’s super sturdy, so it keeps that form and it also has that armor-like texture. So it would automatically look like armor, ready for your cost.
If you remember Trinity Tuck, she had a wave-like corset. You get that watery look. Plastique Tiara and Brooklyn Heights had the look where it looks like moving water on their body.
Kai: Cool. That material's so beautiful.
Vire: It is. And back then they didn't have the clear one. I think the one that Brooklyn and Plastique used was clear. Back then they only had this ugly tan color one and a black version. Now they do clear, which is amazing.
Kai: And 2019 means you started school in the pandemic?
Kai: How was that?
Vire: I graduated completely remotely. I never went to a class on-site. It was really hard at first, and I was like, “Should I even like keep going? Or should I stop?”
I don't feel like I ever got the full learning experience. I never got the hands-on help. Everything was from my home through a computer screen. Some things were frustrating they couldn't translate or your effort and hard work would not translate through a screen.
Kai: It's so different when you're showing a piece online versus in person. Did that change the way you design and create?
Vire: At first, I was doing the craziest things. I really love avant-garde silhouettes, sharp edges, volume, and luminous fabrics like organza and satin. I was making things at my max creativity. It was hard for the instructor to grade me. A lot of instructors have this mindset that you need to design for the people.
I just want to design one off, singular pieces. I don't want to design something to be reproduced a thousand times.
You’ll be happiest at yourself. You don’t want to be someone else and not be happy.
Kai: Right. School is a really good place to get all those foundational skills and learn the rules of the system. And then once you graduate, you can start to figure out how to bend those rules for yourself.
Vire: Yes. And it's hard because I was getting criticized by every instructor, everyone.
Kai: It’s disappointing that teachers aren't creating the space for all the different visions and goals that everyone has.
Vire: I get their concern, but I told her, my end goal was not to become somebody's bitch, essentially.
Kai: Period. Switching gears a little bit. Now you're done with school and stepping into a new chapter in your life. What's bringing you trans joy recently?
Vire: Pride month. Pride month is a very happy month. Seeing everybody do their thing, everybody's booked and busy and blessed. I'm currently the most booked I’ve ever been.
Before this, negativity was happening in almost every part of my life. But right now everything's smooth sailing.
Kai: Booked, busy, and blessed. I've only been transitioning for a little over a year now, and there's been a lot of realizations that I've learned, but I'm always curious, what are other girls learning? Do you have any words of advice for the girls?
Vire: Looks do not identify your gender. Don’t worry too much about being passable or not. A lot of people overthink it and want to look as feminine as they can. I don’t think it makes you happy that way. You’ll be happiest at yourself. You don’t want to be someone else and not be happy.
I was a huge Adore fan and was trying to be like her. But me being her was not fun.
like looks and it's just, it's not like six years. You're still yourself, you know?
I would also have to say, yeah, cause you'll be your happiest at yourself. You don't want to be somebody else and, not be happy. I, I was at the, I was like the, at the, at some point, like I was trying to be like somebody else. I was a huge a huge Adore fan Okay. Yeah. And I was like trying to be like her.
It’s going to be hard, but find trans-friendly jobs.
Kai: Where do the girls find trans-friendly jobs? I know Starbucks has pretty good trans healthcare.
Vire: There’s a program called TransCanWork. They've helped me find jobs. LGBT centers can help with jobs. They can help with resume building.
Kai: Any makeup tips for the girls?
Vire: I would give makeup tips, but I feel like that also goes into being passable. Just anything that makes you glow. You just want to glow, and shimmer.
Glowing is the best way to be trans
Kai: I love that. That’s it.
Vire: You’re glowing all the time too.
Kai: Oh, thank you. I love makeup. I'm obsessed with enhancing my face right now.
Vire: It's really pretty. I don't wear as much makeup as I used to, but I do love eyeliners.
Eyeliners are amazing, and you can use them in any different type of way. My go-to's are white eyeliner and black eyeliner from Inglot. It's a gel pot liner—honestly, the best thing in the world. Definitely recommend getting the one that comes in a bundle. It comes with this rejuvenating serum. You put the serum on top of the liner to keep it wet.