Paris Fashion Week AW19 – an interview with Neith Nyer

A girl with red hair poses in a pink set with platform brown shows and a pink large fanny pack around waist.

It is in an old post office that Neith Nyer × DDP have chosen to show the brilliant outcome of their collaboration. This old warehouse perfectly embodies the common thread of these two brands – both animated and inspired by street culture.

A multi-colored checkered jacket paired with a multi-colored checkered cross body bag around the waist — to get the total look — or a multi-colored flowery puffy jacket, were some of the looks that represented the association of the two brands to a T, both respecting their iconic styles whilst merging with the popular and vulgar. On top of that, Georgia Pendlebury extraordinary styling and Florence Tetier’s jewels, establish a real narrative, combining past and future in one and same show.

A girl with shaved head wears a floral puffer over a pink and white check set and matching floral top. She also wears a plaid pink backpack but on the front.

The Brazilian-born, Paris-based, designer and founder of Neith Nyer is known for his magic of storytelling through garments. Free from taboo, imagination running riot, Francisco Terra’s byword isn’t to please, but rather make a statement by being irreverent. He wants to provoke and defy the narrow conventions of Parisian fashion. Being trained by Ricardo Tisci and Guillaume Henry, he worked his way from menswear to womenswear – and this technical diversity and risk-taking have now become a part of his design personality.

Willing to explore new horizons, in 2018 DDP named Francisco Terra as the new artistic director of the brand. They launched a new line together, called ‘Neith Nyer and DDP’. This first collaboration is just the start and announcement of a new and sharedcommunal journey.

A girl with orange hair wears denim bermuda shorts with a striped shirt and check yellow coat, with green-yellow round earrings and blue eyeshadow. Someone off-camera is holding her hand.

You are both two eccentric brands belonging to the street – how did the collaboration with DDP come about?

Destiny I would say! While organizing the SS19 presentation, Natacha Voranger who was styling the collection suggested that we could use the showroom of DDP in Paris as our work base. Briefly after, I met Nicolas and Antoine Caillet who respectively are CEO and image director of the brand. They also happen to be brothers since the company is a family business. 

We first connected at a very personal level, we were on the same vibe. I grew up in Brazil and didn’t know much about DDP like most people do in France. So the idea of collaboration took a few weeks to fall into my mind. It is only when they invited me to come to their studio that it struck me. I spent hours diving into their racks of archives.

The sharpness of their designs came with something irreverent that immediately appealed to me. I felt very honoured when they suggested we could collaborate.

Can you tell us more about the creative process of this collaboration – how did you split the work/creative process between the two of you?

The starting point was a chat I had with Laurent Caillet, founder of DDP. We both have that vision of clothing not only as pieces of a garment but more as objects that reflect stories and memories. We figured out we are both obsessed with flea markets and it felt like a great basis for the upcoming collection. It is about blurring the lines in between what is new and what is old, embracing a legacy, and also an aesthetic of accumulation. In terms of process, I almost organically found my place in their studio. 

At this stage, I just see ourselves as one big team. DDP has been around for over twenty years, and they have an incredible web of manufacturers, people who are able to develop techniques and fabrics. This gave us the chance of exploring a whole new range of possibilities. For instance, with designer Marine Cuq we developed a fleece fabric that has been treated in a way that it looks moth-eaten. 

A girl is leaning on wall with one hand wearing a purple sleeveless top with brown flared trousers and green plaid platform shoes. She also wears clear purple sunglasses and clutches a pink plaid bag in her hand.

Do you have any future project(s) with the DDP brand or is this collaboration only a one night stand?

After the presentation, I am officially going to take over the creative direction of DDP. It was a blessing to work with them and I didn’t hesitate much when I was asked to join the company.

It is a beautiful challenge to merge both our universes into one. The history of DDP is an endless source of inspiration, they have been trendsetters since the mid ’90s. To me, they are the living proof that streetwear has a history just as valuable as the so-called ‘high fashion’.

You are known as a designer but also as a legendary storyteller – what is the story that you wanted to convey for AW19?

We started to imagine a character – someone wandering around in a suburban fleamarket, trying to find meaning in life by covering herself with clothes, fabrics, and jewellery.

It is prosaic since it is almost like garbage digging but also magical as you can build a fairytale-like silhouette by associating various elements.

The whole point was to circle around the idea of what is new and what is old, how to use techniques that are considered as crafty and outdated to give them a new meaning. We are willing to create a language of our own, something traditional yet radical.

A girl answers her phone wearing a pink plaid pussy-bow top with a floral hat, white sunglasses and large round earrings.
A close up of pink plaid fanny pack, hands with almond shaped pink nails in shot.

I know that a lot of your influence comes from your familial heritage but what is it about Paris that inspires your collections and visuals?

Paris and my hometown in rural Brazil are two clashing environments. This opposition constantly feeds my collections. In Paris, through my experience in traditional fashion houses, I learned a certain taste for luxury and complexity. However, it wouldn’t mean much without being mixed with the very popular references that I brought from overseas.

Paris is also a complex city, that has much more to offer than the typical tourist sights. I mostly hang out in the northeastern parts of town. Walking in the streets of Barbès or Chateau Rouge is a feast of inspiration.

Could you name some brands, musicians, collectives, art or anything that you look up to?

I look up to Brazilian popular music, Maria Bethania, Os Mutantes, Ney Matogrosso – they are the most important names to me. I am also obsessed with cinema. At the moment I am really into the work of Hirokazu Kore-eda and David Robert Mitchell.

One of my other passion is manga. Keiko Takemiya and Hagio Moto are people that I consider truly revolutionary.

A close-up of a girl with two tight ponytails in braids and a head accessory attached to hairline. Wears minimal make-up with fluorescent green eyeshadow on wings of eyes and a colourful bead necklace with a larger clear bead in centre.

How do you feel Paris is evolving in terms of Fashion and what is the climate there for emerging designers willing to establish themselves?

I am very excited about the new generation of designers presenting their work in Paris. Brands such as Y/Project, Ottolinger, and D’Heygere are definitely proposing a new way of thinking and defining fashion. 

Finding your place as a designer is still a struggle, it comes with dedication but also great sacrifices. People often have this superficial image about fashion – perceived as a glamorous world but no one sees behind the scenes and how hard fashion people works to achieve their goals.

Your brand is presented during the womenswear FW but I feel like you’ve already started to merge genders in your collections – is this something that you will be continuing in the future? 

It is more about not considering gender as a central element when designing the clothing. I do that naturally since I am surrounded by people who don’t fit the generally assigned poles of man and woman. It is a matter of personal freedom. I believe that the world should be this way and we will keep doing it with DDP.

A male with messy blonde hair wears an oversized pink and yellow knit jumper with matching pink and blue scarf. He wears neon green eyeshadow and nail polish that matches his outfit.
A girl stands in front of a wall looking off-camera. She wears a multi-colour striped bikini-top dress with a yellow plaid fanny-pack and yellow platform ankle boots.

What is the world you’d like to live in?

At the moment all I want is a world without Jair Bolsonaro, the newly elected Brazilian President.

How do you see the future for Neith Nyer? 

My work as a creative director will now be solely dedicated to DDP. Neith Nyer will still exist through different media. I am willing to create occasional artisanal collections for books or movies. Some exciting things are on their way, it will be unveiled very soon. 

All clothes Neith Nyer AW19. All images © Antoine Guilloteau