It’s perhaps only in the bohemian enclave of Menilmontant in Paris’ 20th arrondissement – a hub for radical thinkers and political uprisings since the 19th century – that a public garden like the Terre d’Ecologie Populaire (or TEP) can exist in the French capital.
Originally an abandoned lot overgrown with wild flora, it was embraced as a makeshift park by the neighbourhood’s residents who in 2019 protested against and successfully blocked the construction of a government-backed apartment complex meant to go up on site.
Today, it continues to be a community space with a distinct grassroots spirit complete with free-roaming chickens, a vegetable plot and a kitchen that feeds the homeless. It was thus the location of choice for the Paris-based photographer and long-time FEMALE collaborator Chuck Reyes who – jointly with the up-and-coming stylist Yuan Qian – spent a day out in this green community space to lens a fashion editorial featuring individuals regardless of age, gender or style.
“It’s not the typical manicured park in Paris and attracts the same kind of independence-charged crowd and energy,” he says. “One wouldn’t associate the people who visit TEP with the typical chic Parisian. That to me makes them truly unique.”