Purple Magazine
— The Island Issue #35

ami s/s 2021

ISABELLE ADJANI

photography and interview by OLIVIER ZAHM
art direction by VINCENT DARRÉ
style by YASMINE ESLAMI

the most secretive and charismatic icon of french cinema looks in a mirror made of images of herself from across her stellar career— at designer vincent darré’s apartment in the heart of paris, an island of color and eccentricity.

OLIVIER ZAHM — What is your favorite island? Memory of an island? An island where you’d happily spend the rest of your life?
ISABELLE ADJANI — It’s a peninsula: Comporta in Portugal. The possibility of an insular, insolent life linked to the continent. Formentera, Mediterranean confetti scattered between Spain and Algeria. An eco-island in the Maldives, as long as it’s not underwater. Marlon Brando’s island, where I refused to follow him aged 19, which I still don’t know. More modestly, close to my dreams, the islands of Connemara. The Île Saint-Louis, that ultimate urban refuge. But to spend my life on an island in the tropics or at the end of the world, even a paradisal one, no thanks! I’m neither Friday nor Robinson.

OLIVIER ZAHM — And if we went now? Right now. Where would you go?
ISABELLE ADJANI — I’d travel with Baudelaire:

“Ô Mort, vieux capitaine, il est temps ! levons l’ancre !
Ce pays nous ennuie, ô Mort ! Appareillons !
Si le ciel et la mer sont noirs comme de l’encre,
Nos cœurs que tu connais sont remplis de rayons”

[Death, old captain, let’s cast off! The time has come!
This country holds no joy for us. Come! Let’s depart!
Although both sea and sky are bathed in inky gloom,
You know that your bright flame still burns in every heart!]

Otherwise, right this minute, I dream of going to Costa Rica. It’s so well preserved and has such biodiversity. It’s just an incredible place.

OLIVIER ZAHM — In this period of global isolation, we all cling on to a little rock: our morale. Where does the current torment leave you?
ISABELLE ADJANI — Tormented — and tired. Gloomy ideas and the death of our freedom are infecting our bodies more than the virus! Between rage and despair, between anger and powerlessness, like many other artists, rendered inessential by decree, refusing to be just a distraction to amuse the dreary gallery of our governments, ministers, and presidents. Those numbskulls don’t understand that art is everything and that the virus is nothing.

OLIVIER ZAHM — Your most memorable encounter? I mean, the one that comes to mind right now?
ISABELLE ADJANI — The one you spend all your life waiting for, not realizing it’s already happened several times. My encounter with an actor who became a man I loved without limits, who left me a message at Claridge’s, where I was staying to present Camille Claudel in London. The message said, “Welcome to this miserable country.” Maybe that’s the best life has to offer, what keeps us going — those wonderful encounters that make us forget all the bad things that follow.

OLIVIER ZAHM — What have you retained from your childhood?
ISABELLE ADJANI — An adult’s memories… leaving me with a definitive childhood. Yes, it’s paradoxical.

OLIVIER ZAHM — Speaking of childhood: when we are children, they force us to tidy our room and sort out our life before entering adulthood, to get rid of chaos. Not you: I get the impression that you have retained that disorder, that wildness, and that willingness to take risks.
ISABELLE ADJANI — It’s in adulthood that we create chaos and behave like savages. Today’s delinquents are the men in suits and ties who have the power to inflict on the weakest among us the deadly consequences of decisions that will never have an impact on their own lives. The real risk is to create, to turn creative violence into a weapon of mass pacification that blows up all the silence, all the hypocrisy. Revolution is not child’s play.

OLIVIER ZAHM — When one thing is ending, and before another starts, it can be pretty tumultuous. What’s that time like for you? Anxious, calm, happy, a mess?
ISABELLE ADJANI — A commotion of emotions and feelings. It’s impossible to live in the present. I’m torn between what’s still to come and what hasn’t yet disappeared.

OLIVIER ZAHM — “To love is essentially to want to be loved,” said Lacan. But what if he was mistaken? What if the opposite is true, if loving was wanting to love. What do you think?
ISABELLE ADJANI — To think about love is to kill it. Loving, being loved, who cares? Whether active or passive, love is outside fashion and time. Love cannot be conjugated. When love is talked about too much, something is being hidden. I like scenes in movies when women tell men to shut up when they kiss them.

OLIVIER ZAHM — And suffering? “There’s no cure for love,” said Proust, who saw it as a physical and mental illness. Can you love without hurting?
ISABELLE ADJANI — Love is not an illness, so there’s no point trying to find a vaccine or cure. Love does you good, love hurts you. Nights of ecstasy can leave you with a hangover, yearning to die. Proust may be the fiction of love through the love of fiction: writing rather than feeling, writing in order to keep desire at bay, between the lines.

OLIVIER ZAHM — And utopia, what is that for you? The dream of something? But what thing? Cinema? Love? A political thing we cannot grasp?
ISABELLE ADJANI — Given my current state of mind, I’d say surviving the planet’s sixth extinction.

OLIVIER ZAHM — You can drown in solitude, but it’s not always unpleasant, is it?
ISABELLE ADJANI — Solitude is bearable if it’s a chosen retreat, a suspension of social relations, of friendship, a moment for yourself but not an egocentric one, a withdrawal where others stay on the doorstep, just nearby. A freewheeling solitude with the occasional fleeting visit from a passing friend.

OLIVIER ZAHM — “Solitude is always accompanied by madness,” said Marguerite Duras. Why always use this word “madness” when talking about women who refuse order and submission, being in a couple — the norm?
ISABELLE ADJANI — I’m not sure she’s just talking about women there. What I understand is that you have to get away from yourself to be truly alone, to sustain and bear solitude. You have to be able to leave everyday reality for the land of suffering, you have to pass through the nightmares and the dreams that make life bearable, and tell yourself, like Oscar Wilde, that art does not imitate life but that life imitates art. Solitude is a fiction that we write ourselves so we can feel bad, feel good, move ahead, or go back, by kicking out norms and annoyances.

END

ORANGE CREPE DRESS AMI

Delphine Courteille, hair — Laurence Azouvy, make-up — Stan Rey-Grange, photographer’s assistant — Cindy Fontaine, stylist’s assistant

[Table of contents]

The Island Issue #35

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