With an eye for the startling surreal, photographer Pauline Darley has amassed quite an expansive body of work. Whether her own personal collections like – Half Moon, She has Waited Too Long, Vivid Colors – or fashion and celebrity collaborations with Marie Claire, Elle magazine, and Armani, Darley brings a personal style into everything she does, and whips up delectable visual delights in the process.
In lanuitlanuit, a personal shoot she did with her team in Paris, we see the contrast of natural and polished in the blonde-bobbed beauty, who in one scene, is draped in a crimson red dress of satin quality, and in the next, remarkably dapper in a crisp, puff-sleeved button down and fitted black slacks. What I’m most drawn to is the way that Darley is able to capture those remarkable gestures and expressions, the latter of which she pays particular attention to the eyes. There is a smooth and seamless quality to her work, and she has a natural inclination to play with light and earthly elements such as fog, smoke, and mist, which occur in many of her photos and which create an overall distinctive look and style that is both chic and organic; enduring and ephemeral.
Born in Burgundy and now based in Paris, the French photographer – who is herself quite a beauty – started pursuing the art of photography fairly early on: “I began photography when I was 17,” she said in an interview with PHLearn. “Photography was an artistic medium for me, I needed to have an outlet to express myself at that age.”
With immaculate make-up artistry by MademoiselleMu, whom she has worked with on many occasions, She has waited too long is captivating, eerie, and hauntingly glamourous, with ghostly skeletal makeup and piercing eyes. Darley admits to being drawn to fashion and portraiture, as in her interview with Molempire: “I like taking pictures of people, I like aesthetic, to create around people. Fashion was logical in my photography choice, as well as portrait photography.”
Her photographs create a subtle yet highly sophisticated mood, and she toys with looks that border on the delicately feminine and elegant as in Whimsical Garden, tomboyish and rebellious in Anywhere I lay my head, androgynous and bold in Temple of Knowledge, and stark and provocative in Poison.
In all of her collections one can see Darley’s ability at combining textures and fashioning moods, yet there is also something in each of her photos that is so subtly poignant, like a secret fresh on the lips; something that cannot be seen, but only felt; akin to looking at something incredibly beautiful that is somehow just a touch off: the whipped, flowing canopy bed that looms in the background of the fountain and behind the young woman in Whimsical Gardens, or the fly against chalked and powered cheek in Requiem for a Dream, it is that contrast – that slight nick in the Oakwood finish so-to-speak – that captures and creates each photo’s story.