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Adele, Reborn: The British Icon Gets Candid About Divorce, Body Image, Romance & Her “Self-Redemption” Record

Adele, Reborn: The British Icon Gets Candid About Divorce, Body Image, Romance & Her “Self-Redemption” Record

  • October 22, 2021
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She saw the effect in her own childhood. “My parents were definitely frazzled,” she says. Her mum, Penny Adkins, and dad, Mark Evans (who died earlier this year), broke up shortly after she was born, and her relationship with her father was strained through the years, to put it mildly. It’s taken a fair chunk of her adulthood to process it – and she partly blames too much walking on eggshells. “It’s not bad decisions that f**k up our kids,” she says, referencing the modish self-help guru Glennon Doyle (a favourite of hers), “it’s indecisions.” I ask how her anxiety is now. “I definitely learnt a lot of tools in my therapy, but I also just go with it. I find the anxiety gets worse when you try and get rid of it.”

“But I was terrified,” she says, of her lowest patch. “People were everywhere, trying to get stories, and I just hated it. I was embarrassed. I was really embarrassed. That thing of not being able to make something work. We’ve been trained as women to keep trying, even by the movies we watched when we were little. At the time it broke my heart, but I actually find it so interesting now. How we’re told to suck it up.” She shrugs. “Well, f**k that. Shall we go in and see the show?”

Typically, Cooper Hewitt is closed on Wednesdays, but the museum staff kindly opened up specially for us (well, I say us). Adele is keen to see the Willi Smith: Street Couture exhibition – dedicated to the genius American designer of the late 1970s and ’80s, credited with a bottom-up approach to democratising fashion, and whose legacy as a Black creative is being paid some overdue attention. Adele is soon poring over the mix of studio photographs, video and archive pieces from Smith’s career. “He designed one of my friend’s mum’s wedding dresses,” she says, and talks with authority about his radical rethink of who fashion belongs to before his early death in 1987, aged 39.

Save for a handful of museum staff and members of her team and security detail loitering in the foyer, we’ve the place to ourselves. She misses being able to get to exhibitions, she says as we wander the rooms. If she plays her cards right, she gets “about 20 minutes anywhere” before the first fan clocks her and there’s a scrum. Plus, LA doesn’t have the same variety of spaces as her beloved London. Would you care to list the ways in which moving to California has turned you a bit celeby, I tease? “Well,” she says, deliciously deadpan, “I’ve got fit and ’ealfy. That’s quite LA, I guess.”

Ah yes, that. Type “Adele diet” into Google and it brings up an avalanche of results, including a mass of content written since May 2020, when she posted a snap of herself on Instagram wearing a black minidress, taken in her backyard on her birthday (more than 12 million likes, almost a quarter of a million comments). It is a subject on which she sounds both profoundly sanguine and a little bit pissed off. “I think one of the reasons people lost the plot was because actually, it was over a two-year period,” she says of losing “100lbs” behind closed doors.

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