Plenty of us would find it hard to meet someone whom you could both describe as rebellious and soft-spoken until you meet (even over the phone), the fascinating Adeline Rapon.
Parisian jeweller by trade, photographer and influencer by taste, Adeline sits atop seemingly contrasting worlds that she has been able to give meaning and voice to over the past few years. It hasn’t been without difficulty or doubt but her trusting her inner voice that kept poking, nudging and learning more may very well have been what she (and we) had needed all along. With the Caribbean yet French island of Martinique on the paternal side of the family and the “métropole” aka France on the maternal, the land she decides to claim remains whole. Adeline is neither half this or partially that. As she grew into her womanhood, she became more acutely aware of the colonial society that had witnessed her rise and as a result, her commitment to understanding and advocating for racial and gender equity acutely but not just systematically, intrinsically first.
Tapping into her online community grown through years of fashion blogging, Adeline began revealing what was bubbling inside and slowly but very surely surfacing by stunting her gorgeous curls more often than before, showcasing exquisitely important reads, or photographing herself as a woman aware of and ultimately comfortable in her own skin, her own hair(s), her own identities. She engaged daily on and offline with a multitude of like-minded sisters and brothers, so-called allies, as well as naysayers, doubters and trolls and despite fuming more often than she had room and time for, she continued on, remembering however in the process to pause, breathe and reclaim her time.
I am worthy of joy and calm
even in moments of adversity and chaos. Alex Elle
Time is precious, she tells me during yet another creatively recorded conversation… more so than fancy travels and retreats although she adds that her returning to Martinique for the summer in 2018 after twenty something years was spiritual and therefore necessary. And it is in Martinique that she has very recently exhibited a remarkable series of portraits inspired by the lives of almost yet not-forgotten Caribbean women. Adeline’s approach is rooted in a subtle mixture of pedagogy and truth restoration. Aesthetically pleasing yes but politically poignant too. Similarly, her feminist and afro-feminist stance is rooted in intersectional awareness and joy. Together with a collective of women creatives, the Pigalle Sisterhood (how can a Paris connoisseur not adore the sultry, almost indecent connotation of that name?), she enlivens DJ sets, reforms stale party dress codes, reinvents sisterhood in male obscured arenas. There is power in the sisterly collective… undoubtedly.
But what I ended up falling in love with is Adeline’s less public passion and gift for designing exclusive and unique jewellery adding color and flavour to the Paris I thought I knew… As she recalls, giving soul to an object carefully and patiently handcrafted brings her back to the days during which her maternal grandfather would hand her his tools to help him shape some of the pieces of furniture she stills owns to this day. Her hands in the process became her favorite tools and it is with the eagerness to gift small pieces of humanity that she entered the rather overwhelmingly masculine and luxurious world of French jewellery making.
As a (proudly) self-proclaimed artisan however, she views her passion, her work as an endangered specie with the looming threat and thrust of mercantilism and hyper consumerism so she vows every and each day to consume differently and to advocate for conscious and measured buying, be it clothes, food or jewellery for that matter. And this posture is what defines her best: to know therefore to share, to show therefore to model behaviours, ideas, beliefs with care, with patience and with might.
The Paris I am growing to love despite now residing thousands of miles away is one where women of African and Caribbean heritage are leading a powerful yet seemingly soundless revolution. Their actions and the consistency with which they act, their steadily acquired belief in self and selves (although far from being absolute), their intuitive calling for shaping a legacy that resonates of inclusion and justice are what makes a city once known for its fading romanticism, one that will be remembered for its emerging activism.
Adeline Rapon has taught me the valuable lesson that letting go also means letting in and in the beauty of finding self lies the infinite beauty of finding others.
Life is a useless passion, an exciting journey of a mammal in survival mode. Each day is a miracle, a blessing unexplored and the more you immerse yourself in light, the less you will feel the darkness. There is more to life than nothingness. And cynicism. And nihilism. And selfishness. And glorious isolation. Be selfish with yourself, but live your life through your immortal acts, acts that engrain your legacy onto humanity. Transcend your fears and follow yourself into the void instead of letting yourself get eaten up by entropy and decay. Freedom is being yourself without permission. Be soft and leave a lasting impression on everybody you meet”. Mohadesa Najumi
Adeline Rapon’s Instagram page is definitely the place to find out more about what she reads, what she so elegantly yet firmly advocates for and what she photographs. And you can also check out the ultimate feminist swag of her collective, the Pigalle Sisterhood, here.
In preparing the podcast episode, thanks to Adeline, we also dived back in bell hooks‘ visionary prose by rereading ain’t I a woman: Black Women & Feminism (1981) & Feminism is For Everybody: Passionate Politics (2000).