Francisco Terra believes in past lives. He finds divine inspiration through his sense for recognizing different versions of himself in places, people and things. This intuition acts as a medium for multiple pasts to live in harmony with the present and this meditated creativity reflects in his work. Even as a former senior womenswear designer at Givenchy and Carven, Francisco devotes his energy to the art rather than adopting a cliche diva attitude.
His burgeoning label, Neith Nyer, is a sartorial story aiming to express the unique experience of feeling powerful nostalgia for a time and place you’ve never been apart of. In a celebration of diverse color and texture, it is evident that each piece is realized in passion. Below we have the exclusive pleasure of getting to know Francisco Terra in a discussion about exploring vintage markets in Seoul, practicing humility as well as self preservation in an industry sometimes wrought with nefarious intentions and finding agency through art.
UM: Where did you come from and where are you now?
I come from Belo Horizonte, capital of Minas Gerais, a Brazilian state situated on the southeast mountains of the country. I call it the Brazilian Texas! At this exact moment I am in Seoul, Korea, surrounded by amazing malls packed with cool vintage in a research trip but where I am really, is Paris, city of light, the place I call home.
UM: What are you researching in Seoul?
I am researching different ways of constructing a look, seeing how different cultures dress themselves and express themselves through their looks. Also vintage pieces, unique details... Seoul is famous in Asia for its vintage markets. And that's the main reason I am here.
UM: That sounds like a dream. How different are your creative processes now from your days at Carven or Givenchy?
It is a dream come true. And oh god, now is dream come true. I can be completely myself and run through things my own way. I like to start with vintage research, going through vintage shops, more for touching fabrics than for checking volumes, volumes come on a second time, but the textile industry was much more close to what pleases me than nowadays, I'm not very keen on technologic textiles, I rather feel the touch and the craftsmanship of past times, even if after I know I will have to run into the technology industry to find something similar. Then I always offer myself a week of expositions, or a trip if i can. On big houses we have no time for this, when we do, it’s one day. And through this process as I told you, there will for sure be a specific moment when everything will come to my head. Like the examples I gave, it can be a print, a song I was listening to while checking the clothes, a picture or a painting. Even something that was dumped on the streets, or a look someone was wearing. That's also why Seoul is amazing, cause the context of everything is different. When I arrive back to the hotel I can’t even rest my mind, I sketch like crazy, my mind keeps going, I can’t sleep.. now it’s 6 am here and I still haven’t slept. I live the feel of being carried away like this. By the environment and by my own mind.
UM: What does a good day for you look like?
OMG that is gonna sound horrible but a good day for me is a cold day, that starts late, with a nice brunch with my neighbors and friends, Marine and Maxence, followed up by an afternoon playing cards and smoking cigarettes, then a cinema at night with loads of popcorn and ending up with a couple of inspirations for a few sketches before sleep. I like drawing at night.
UM: What inspires Neith Nyer?
Specific things, a song, a movie, a picture, a exhibition, a magazine found on the streets, something that marked a moment I have lived.
UM: As a sort of artistic co-op, what do you look for in people who want to join your team?
Someone who feels inspired by what I do, someone that recognize themselves in my creative universe and that sees fashion the same way I do. A co-op only works when both aim the for same thing, and feel the same about each other. Mutual respect, mutual admiration.
UM: Please tell me more about vintage shopping in Seoul. What else have you found?
I went to this amazing market today, whose name I am incapable of pronouncing of course, I think it is where coolness was born. The market was shared into three parts, one for korean food, one for fabrics, one for vintage. Endless three floors packed with clothes from another time and kids dressed up perfectly (in my own modest, personal opinion). I raised my collection from graphic t shirts but I was more interested in denim. I have always wanted to explore denim in hardcore sharp ways, like I did for FW15. It is something that has been part of my youth. Denim brands were the coolest in Brazil in the 90s, like Forum and Zoomp. So I got a few very peculiar pairs of 501s with over the top embroidery on them and a few knit sweaters that seemed like they were out of a 80s version of Asian Harry Potter meets Absolutely Fabulous. I have been channeling a lot Absolutely Fabulous lately and I found many things that could be part of her wardrobe. Love it...Oh, I also got a bunch of t shirts from the 80s, which might be a good hint for what’s is coming... And a iron wrinkle velvet top, amazing!
UM: I love the idea that you are so inspired by experiencing a novel environment. Where else have you found that feeling?
Weirdly enough I found that feeling in Paris, that’s why I installed my brand there. I had personal reasons to stay in Paris but I can't deny how much the city influenced my behavior, my career and my outlook towards fashion. Parisian women dress themselves beautifully, especially in winter. Their allure is fascinating.
The city carries me on, my friends say I have become the most Parisian of the Parisians. Which may be true; I believe in different lives. I guess I was Parisian in another one, and I am re-encountering Paris again.
I am also very sensitive to small Brazilian cities with peculiar cultures. It's a wide country, so you can find yourself in different countries whether you are in some lost village in the desert of Bahia, where do you have these monochrome tones of browns on everything, walls, clothes, earth; whether it’s a small town in the deep cold south where German immigrants brought the colorful tulips from Europe, the very fairy-tale architecture…
UM: If you could give your younger self some advice, what would it be?
Shit that's a hard one. Advice to my young-self... be less kind I guess. I have zero ego and a far too big heart. I get constantly abused by people in the industry. Unfortunately, or fortunately. I am still trying to prove that hard work and kindness can build an empire as strong as roughness and "hot-contacts". Maybe I will re-think this advice in a few years if I achieve all I wish for Neith Nyer.