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Neith Nyer Beauty Queen SS19 Paris Fashion Week
Photography Adam Peter Johnson

Neith Nyer pays tribute to unconventional Parisian beauty queens

Paris-based designer Francisco Terra’s new collection is inspired by ‘the spooky, gothic kid who dreams of being Miss France’

Francisco Terra, the designer behind transgressive Paris-based label Neith Nyer, is deeply sentimental. Bursting onto the fashion landscape in 2015, his subversive, eclectic collections are tinged with nostalgia – for the hills of his home in Brazil, his childhood, and loved ones living and lost. Terra moved to Paris to live out his grandmother’s dream of visiting the city, and took a job at her favourite Couture house, Givenchy, before naming his brand in her memory. He dedicated a collection, Farewell My Sister, to his sibling, who passed away when she was 18. And now, for SS19, he turns his attention to his adopted city, ‘a place of hope and despair’, and its residents. 

“This season is all about my arrival in Paris and how the city received me,” the designer explains. “The collection is a tribute to all those fighting to succeed here, because we can all relate to that I think. That's why I asked people I know – a mix of friends, artists, stylists, models, and even nurses – to model everything for me, because they’re a huge part of Paris and my life there, and they inspire me constantly.”

Not only did Terra assemble a diverse cast of non-models, he also decided against actually putting his collection on the runway this season. Instead, he and his gang of Parisians head out onto the city’s streets to shoot a series of images that capture its essence.

“I wanted to escape from the concept of presenting a collection in a private space and then, afterwards, talking about ‘street fashion’ and ‘street style’,” he says. “We prepared as we would for a show, but then went out and wandered through Paris pretty aimlessly.” Documenting their journey was photographer Julien Boudet and Adam Peter Johnson, who captured dreamlike shots of the group getting ready – their hazy qualities giving the impression that kids playing dress-up somehow got their hands on their parents’ analogue camera. 

The clothing that makes up the collection was inspired by a beauty queen trying to make her way to the top. “I had in mind this girl full of dreams, but she’s a bit of an outsider,” Terra explains. “She’s this spooky, gothic kid from Bastille that dreams of being Miss France.”

References in the form of crowns and swimsuits are pulled directly from the wannabe pageant girl’s wardrobe, while childlike, sparkly mini dresses, ruffled, floral evening gowns, and butterfly-jewelled stonewashed denim features heavily. In contrast, cut-off tourist-y tees and leather trousers hint at his beauty queen – and the city of Paris’s – hidden dark side, with many pieces featuring flowers and trashy prints hand painted by artist Fay Brown. “There’s a certain darkness beyond the sparkling lights of the Eiffel Tower,” says Terra. “The city is rife with visual contradictions.”

As with all of Terra’s clothing, though often bearing overtly feminine flourishes, it is designed to transcend gender, and – good news! – you needn’t actually be an IRL beauty queen to wear it. This season, he continues to champion inclusion and diversity in fashion, and spread his message of positivity. “One of my favourite pieces from the collection is the ‘Miss Nothing’ look, with features a pageant sash with nothing written on it,” he says. “Because it doesn’t matter if you become ‘Miss Something’ or a ‘Miss Nothing’, what matters is that you’re happy with yourself.“