Welcome to ON BEAUTY, a monthly feature highlighting creative, like-minded people who inspire us.
Summer, sex, the seventies… Welcome to the world of Delphine Cauly where les vacances is a perennial state of mind. Perhaps best known to her fans as @été1981, the parisian illustrator has an aesthetic that just may be the antidote to a case of travel-less summer blues. When chatting with Cauly, the connection between art and artist becomes immediate. Her approach to life and beauty reflects a quintessentially French charm and relaxed elegance that can be seen and felt in her work. Her hypnotically sensual female portraits and sun-kissed landscapes evoke a romantic nostalgia for simpler, sweeter times spent somewhere along the Mediterranean coast. Despite her penchant for the past, however, Cauly is confident the best is yet to come.
French girl beauty is, without a doubt, relaxed chic and above all the absence of this obsession with perfection.
How did you find this form of expression? Were you always an illustrator?
I’ve been drawing since I was very little, and I always knew that it would turn into a career—a vocation and a passion. I passed the time drawing princesses wearing wonderful jewels and gowns. I thought about becoming a stylist, but I found myself drawn toward the visual arts. I was accepted to the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, and I took my first steps in illustration very soon after.
You have a very distinct and authentic visual universe. Does it resemble your style in real life? Can you describe it for us?
First of all, thank you! To be honest, I think I try, without doing it on purpose, to look like my drawings. I like the idea of a femininity that is natural but that is also attached to sartorial details that make all the difference: a buttoned dress that opens across the legs, an old lace blouse, vintage denim shorts, a seashell necklace...
Sensuality is a theme that is very present in your work? What is sensuality to you?
I think sensuality is, more than anything else, an appetite for life, having love for the world, nature, and people… self-acceptance too... to know and value your strengths, while knowing how to make unique charm out of small imperfections.
Where do you find inspiration?
Since I was little, I spent my summers in Corsica; the landscapes, the sea, the palm trees, [and] the sun inspired me a lot. And then there is a whole iconography from film and photography from the 1970s and 1980s, where bodies seemed free and in harmony with nature.
Who are the women you admire most in your life?
Beyond the icons of film, fashion, or feminist icons who have served as role models for me, I admire, above all, the women around me: my mother, my sister, my friends. As different as they are, they give me strength and inspiration everyday. We share our joys, our sorrows. I find them beautiful, intelligent, talented, fragile, and invincible… They are a treasure for me.
Finish this statement: “The body of a woman is…” (You can respond in more than one way if you like.)
I’ll respond in two ways: “a marvelous landscape to discover,” and “hers and only hers.”
I think to be beautiful, before all else, is to fully accept and make peace with oneself. Intelligence, humor, the desire to live makes one beautiful too.
Past or present, and why?
Well both, paradoxically. I adore the nostalgia of childhood and adolescence, that of the 1970s too, but I am also an incorrigible optimist. I always have hope that tomorrow will be more beautiful, brighter, sunnier, that the best is yet to come.
What do you think it means to be beautiful? Are there certain things you do to feel beautiful?
As I was saying, I think to be beautiful, before all else, is to fully accept and make peace with oneself. Intelligence, humor, the desire to live makes one beautiful too. But I must admit on my behalf, and it’s terribly cheesy and not at all feminist, nothing makes me feel more beautiful than being loved.
In the United States, we are a little obsessed by the idea of “French girl beauty.” What is French girl beauty for you, and do you have any secrets you would be willing to share?
French girl beauty is, without a doubt, relaxed chic and above all the absence of this obsession with perfection… Overall, [it’s about] letting go… to go out at night in a very beautiful dress but with messy hair, flat sandals, and a vintage basket bag, to dance on tables barefoot, to eat for pleasure, to drink wine and champagne… And don’t wear a bra!
What is your favorite beauty ritual?
I’m addicted to the eye contour mask by Sisely and the Sunmay face roller, which stimulates the microcirculation of the face and gives you a splendid glow; it’s like yoga for the face.
And your favorite beauty food?
Apple, carrot, and ginger juice.
Do you have a beauty vice?
I wear too much makeup! And I have had a great passion for lip liner since the 90s.
What are your beauty essentials for long-haul flights?
An aloe vera moisturizing spray to keep my skin from drying out.
Do you have any special charms or talismans?
I wear all kinds of pagan and religious talismans and gris-gris to bring me luck: small gold and coral medallions that belonged to my Corsican grandmother, bracelets, chains… My favorite talisman is a little gold hand (a Khamsa) my friend Aurélie Saada brought me back from Tel Aviv to protect me from the evil eye.
What do you love most about living in Paris?
I love everything in Paris… the art of living, the architecture, the museums, the terraces, the endless “aperitifs” with my friends, the Seine...
How do you think the female gaze is different from the male gaze?
I like men a lot, but I don’t know them that well. I grew up surrounded by women, so I admit their (men’s) company is very pleasant to me, and I need their gaze, their desire, their love, but I have trouble understanding their perception of the world.
Your work really makes one dream. Can you share the last dream you had with us?
It was a daydream in the arms of a boy.