Updated: Jul 16
Since the rise of Instagram Face, the ideal brow aesthetic has pushed its way past unattainable and entered into intentionally superficial territory. For proof, look no further than the spate of eyebrow pencils designed to achieve a microblading-like effect. Full may no longer be enough. We’d like our brows to look fake, please.
It is hustle culture for the forehead. (Go harder than humanly possible!) It is internalized consumerism. (Don’t just buy the product, become the product!) It is aggressively American—and a little ringarde, no?
Enter Delphine Breyne, the française microblading artist bringing “French girl eyebrows” to the Upper West Side. “In the middle of the pandemic, I took the leap and signed a lease to open my atelier,” Breyne tells Vogue of her new studio, Delphine Eyebrow Couture. She designed the high-ceilinged, intimate-feeling space to be “a Parisian experience in New York,” a phrase that applies to her brow philosophy, as well.
Breyne takes the semi-permanence of microblading and shading, and, in true French fashion, uses the tattooing techniques as tools for understated ease, rather than in-your-face effort. She believes that brows should be sisters, not twins; that results should draw attention to the person, not the procedure; and that a little purposeful imperfection goes a long way.
Still, Breyne’s method is more French couture than French insouciance. Custom-tattooing eyebrows is a bit like custom-tailoring a suit. She explains that the final product feels effortless to the wearer and looks effortless to the observer—but its creation is quite the opposite. It takes “patience to find the best solution, bespoke, for each of my clients,” she tells Vogue. A typical client will visit Breyne three times in total: once for a consultation, then for an initial session, and finally, for a six-week touch-up. “I proceed very delicately, deliberately, taking my time as an artist to provide a result tailored to each person’s face,” she says.
“My own couture style is married with a French eyebrow aesthetic,” Breyne continues, “but emphasizes a different, yet universal underlying truth: Be yourself.” And really, isn’t that sense of individuality the key to French girl style, anyway? Isn’t that why attempts to emulate it—the bateau shirt, the red lip, the messy fringe—so often come off as cartoonish, costumey? The je ne sais quoi we crave has nothing to do with the pieces themselves, and everything to do with the person wearing them.
Similarly, the artist’s take on French girl eyebrows isn’t about wispy strokes, or a certain curve of the arch, or any specific trait at all. It’s about the spirit of the client in her chair. Breyne doesn’t do tropes—just trop chic results. Read on to meet the artist ushering in the era of effortless (looking!) eyebrows.
Vogue: As a French woman living in New York City, how would you describe the difference between the typical American eyebrow aesthetic and the typical French eyebrow aesthetic?
Delphine Breyne: I admire many elements of the American eyebrow aesthetic that is often bold and unapologetic. My talent, and passion really, is to incorporate aspects of the French eyebrow aesthetic to provide the most natural, chic, and slightly more conservative blend to balance a client’s face. That, in essence, is how I would describe the French eyebrow aesthetic: natural and defined, yet conservative, that together make for a “trop chic” outcome!
What do you think is behind the rise of the deliberately fake look—the over-the-top, feathered, laminated brows? They are very defined and clearly tattooed microblading.
Fashion is cyclical. More pronounced or exaggerated eyebrows represent periods of time much like decades and decades ago when the famous French singer Édith Piaf adapted to what was en vogue, shaving off most of her eyebrows. [People] who want to make big changes with their eyebrows often want changes in their lives too.
So maybe understated eyebrows are coming back because we’ve collectively had enough of all the “big life changes” lately—we’re ready for a little normalcy.
Yes, I think natural style is timeless and effortless. [My] style is meant to be, as we say in French, intemporel, meaning the style stands the test of time in any epoque or period. This couture process takes time—which is why I try to make my atelier and the experience as comfortable as possible—and when my clients and I go step-by-step, little by little, never rushed, with maximum communication, we achieve beautiful, natural results with expectations both managed and met. As I like to say, the best natural look is one where imperfection is perfection, not overly done or obvious.
The “sisters, not twins” approach.
I am up-front from the beginning that I will make your eyebrows look like sisters, not twins. All people are asymmetrical—we have two different sides of our face, and hair grows differently on each side. My specialization is a natural look, always personalized, the same way haute couture in Paris is sur mesure, tailored to each client.
It’s almost like the Coco Chanel quote, “Dress impeccably and they remember the woman.” If the brow is meticulously tailored to the person, you don’t even notice the brow—you notice the person, which is the point, right? Where is that line for you, then, between brows that follow “the natural trend” and brows that are tailored naturally?
I am here to bring about the best in you and your eyebrows, not, for instance, replicate the look of a brunette Hollywood actress on a blond New York client. In the end, we are all people, different, and imperfect; our imperfections, however, are what make us unique, beautiful, and human. My job, my passion, is to accentuate that beauty with a subtle, but defined eyebrow treatment that is “natural to you.” It’s a couture method that’s tailored to you and your unique facial contours. I focus on matching facial and tendon structure as the foundation to build on, so that you, the client, can be yourself with the best version of your eyebrows possible. After all, you can only be yourself. By not trying to be someone else, you’re able to maintain a look natural to you with eyebrows tailored to your unique facial framing—and, I should note, save literal time and effort no longer wasting mornings applying excessive makeup to your brows.
That’s an interesting note because I think, for many, microblading seems like an extreme approach. It’s semipermanent tattooing. But you take that extreme-sounding tool and use it for minimalism and ease.
Microblading, to me, is all about making life easier, waking up fresh and complete—really, there’s no price for that! Very concretely, my clients save lots of precious time each morning, an even larger amount on a yearly basis, and do so without the burden of applying excessive makeup to their eyebrows. With microblading, they’re able to spend valuable extra time for themselves, their kids, or their sleep. They’re as grateful as I am for microblading’s true life-changing benefits: the confidence, time-savings, convenience, and, for the Francophiles out there, raffiné.