Isabel Agnes RAPLEY (née ALLEN) [c.1900-c.1935]

Submitted by Stephen Rapley on Tue, 12/13/2016 - 20:21
Isabel Agnes
(Day, Month, & Year are approximate.)
Birthplace (town, state)
Hong Kong
Birthplace (country)
Hong Kong
(Day, Month, & Year are approximate.)
Cause of death

Isabel Agnes Allen was my father's mother. She also owned a women's fashion shop in Central in the early 1930s called Elite Styles. I think it may have been in Icehouse Street. She used to travel from Hong Kong to Paris and back again each year to bring back dresses etc for her clients. 

My father was William Lewis Rapley, born on 26 Oct 1918 in Hong Kong. His father was Lewis Stephens Rapley (1885-1936) who was a manager at J. T. Shaw at the time. The address Isabel Agnes Rapley gave on my father's birth certificate was "Sea View", Wanchai Gap Road. 

I have some photos of her as a young woman.

isabel-agnes-allen.jpeg, by Stephen Rapley

I have so far found one newspaper mention of Elite Styles. There's a tiny piece of editorial with Christmas gift suggestions from the shop in a section called 'Looking Round the Stores' on p 7 of the Hong Kong Telegraph for 10 Dec 1934. 

There is also a mention of Isabel Agnes Rapley in the Carl Smith collection - card number 135117 - referring to Isabel Agnes Rapley; Messrs Elite, Styles  1933. 
I am of course trying to identify any further information I can about her and how she might be connected to any of the other Allens that appear in the Juror Lists of the period 1900-1935 and a search on the HK PRO site.
I don't know when or where she was born. My father was told that she had died at Mallorca in the mid 1930s, but this was never confirmed. 
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Well spotted David! Does that imply then that the indexing on the HK Public Libraries search engine only looks at text and not text within graphics like this advertisement? This of course is good (like the bug that's a feature!) in so far as it means there may be much more material to be uncovered.

The location of the Asiatic Building tees up exactly with where my father indicated the shop was when my brother and I persuaded our parents to return to Hong Kong and Macau in 1990 - for the first time in nearly 50 years. 

I think I've had an occasional match for an advert when searching, but the majority of them don't show up in search results. The search also misses many matches in regular text, because the copies of the old newspapers weren't clear enough to OCR reliably.

Isabel has a very asian appearance, but a western name. Does your family history have any information about her background, eg if she was adopted, or came from a eurasian family?

Given that both she and your grandfather worked in the clothing business, I wonder if they met through working at the same company?