Michelle Lhooq is a journalist, event producer, and consultant based in los angeles and new york

Sophie and Tzef Montana Are the Future of Queer Love

Sophie and Tzef Montana Are the Future of Queer Love

Sophie and Tzef Montana have the kind of love that can turn even the most hardened cynics into believers. On a breezy June evening, this particular cynic was strolling through a seaside town in Crete, where avant-pop musician Sophie—who has produced tracks for Madonna and was nominated for a Grammy last year—was headlining an electronic music festival called Nature Loves Courage.

Arriving at the night club, the pair ascended to the stage like queens. Sophie, in a regal Balmain blazer and chunky diamond-encrusted necklace, leaned over her DJ gear with an air of concentrated precision, Tzef swaying behind her in hip-bone-hugging jeans and a strappy black top. Together, they were a striking vision: two impossibly glamorous trans women and queer icons, traveling the world hand in hand. They spent the rest of the night locked in an embrace on the dance floor, lips grazing each other’s limbs under the flashing lights before they disappeared into the night.

A few weeks later, we met again at Tzef’s apartment in the suburbs of Athens, where the two are now living, having recently abandoned Hollywood for a quieter life by the Aegean Sea. The couple was dressed down for the beach in matching white shirts by Italian designer Stefanel and Greek ’80s icon Billy Bo, layered over black swimsuits they had picked up at the airport. After a quick swim, they curled up in each other’s arms and explained how they met: on a shoot for Charli XCX’s “After The Afterparty” music video in Los Angeles in 2016. Tzef, a model and dancer of Greek, Ethiopian, and Belgian descent, was cast as a zombie, while Scottish-born Sophie had produced the track.

“I looked in the mirror and saw her coming,” recalled Tzef. “I thought the way she looked was over the top—curly hair and high-waisted pants, like a hybrid of a cute poodle and Michael Jackson at his hottest.” Sophie burst into shy laughter and shared her side of the story: “The first thing Tzef said was, ‘why are you late?’ I couldn’t believe someone who didn’t know me would talk to me like that.” With a wry smile, she added, “We were both really annoyed by each other, and it stayed like that for a long time.”

One day, Tzef decided to bury the hatchet, taking Sophie to a restaurant for what turned out to be their first date. She quickly became Sophie’s muse, inspiring a syrupy sweet love song called “Sunscreen.” (Chorus: I’m really, really into this / Driving down Sunset when we kiss.) “Tzef was telling me about Greek beach clubs and dancing on tables,” said Sophie. “After that, I went to the studio and made a song with that image.” Since then, the two have continued to collaborate, creating a stage show featuring Sophie’s music that Tzef choreographed and directed; it played in L.A. and New York last year.

Sophie and Tzef Montana at Gucci Cruise 2020PHOTO: COURTESY OF GUCCI

Style-wise, the two prefer to stay in their own lanes. “The more time we spend together, the more we realize that it’s better that you do your thing and I do my thing,” Sophie said, turning to Tzef to clasp her hand. “We have different characters that we play, but Tzef’s strongest [look] is Latina Fire.” Tzef described Sophie, on the other hand, as “English Rose—the idealized British woman, modern monarchy...not Buckingham Palace but Soho House.” Their recent appearance at Gucci’s Cruise 2020 show at Rome’s Musei Capitolini was proof of their contrasting but complementary tastes: Tzef was draped in ultra-feminine, sinuous silks and a voluminous skirt with a tiny bow, while Sophie cut a leaner silhouette with orange wrap-around aviators and a military blue dress over combat boots.

Ultimately, Sophie and Tzef’s powerful chemistry comes from shared experience—“to be seen as a woman by someone who also understands,” as Tzef put it, adding, “[Cis] women I was dating before didn’t really quite have my experience. It’s nice that we share that.”

“We can have a dialogue,” Sophie agreed.

Tzef nodded, as she began smoothing shimmering body oil over her legs—it was late, which meant that it was time to get ready to party. “As queer, trans, non-binary, whatever you want to call it—we know how it feels to not want to fit into an archetype,” she concluded. “That’s not our style.”

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