Jane Birkin, Singer, Actress and Fashion Inspiration, Dies at 76

Anglo-French singer and actress Jane Birkin, whose collaboration with artist Serge Gainsbourg became a defining figure of the 1970s and whose personal style inspired luxury handbags, died Sunday in Paris. She was 76 years old.

Her death was confirmed by French President Emmanuel Macron, who called her “a symbol of France”. Message posted on Twitter.of French news media Birkin was found dead in his home, but the cause was not immediately known.

The personal and artistic relationship between Mr. Birkin and Mr. Gainsbourg became apparent overseas, especially after the 1969 hit “Je t’aime… moi non plus” (“I Love You… Me Neither”). made her famous. In America, Ms. Birkin was primarily known for lending her name to the famous Hermès handbag, a status symbol with her distinctive strap closure and signature latch.

Jane Mallory Birkin was born on December 14, 1946 in London to actress Judy Campbell and Commandant. Royal Navy David Birkin. But it was her years in France that made her famous and established her status as the epitome of Parisian chic.

Her first acting role was as a blonde in Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1966 film Blowup. It was two years later, on a movie set, that Birkin met Gainsbourg and began a romantic relationship that would last 12 years and captivate France.

Their erotic duet, “Je t’aime… moi non plus,” whose lyrics were punctuated by Birkin’s breathy moans, was seen as epitomizing the sexual revolution of the 1960s. It was condemned by the Vatican.

Even after her relationship with Gainsbourg ended in 1981, Birkin continued to sing and act in films such as Agnès Varda and Patrice Chéreau. In 1983, she released the album Baby Alone in Babylon, with music and lyrics by Mr. Gainsbourg.

Gainsbourg, the director and composer whose music pioneered modern French pop music, died in 1991 at the age of 62.

“He wrote songs for me from 1968 until the day he died,” Birkin said in a 2018 New York Times interview. But perhaps he knew I was at least loyal to it. “

Mr. Birkin’s Garmin looks and carefree bohemian demeanor have captivated a generation of style conscious and inspired the expensive and coveted Hermès Birkin bag.

In a 2018 YouTube interview, she said while referring to a feminine handbag made and named after movie star Grace Kelly, “I’ve become a bit of a proper person too, and I’m wearing Kelly.” I wanted to,” he said. “But I didn’t think it would be enough to satisfy me.”

In a collaboration with French luxury brand Hermès, CEO Jean-Louis Dumas saw Birkin struggling with a straw basket on a flight to London, spilling its contents onto the floor. It started with what I saw. Birkin said he couldn’t find a leather bag he liked. Hermès designed a Birkin that was “four times the size of Kelly” as she had hoped.

Birkin was also popular in France as an activist for women’s and LGBTQ rights, and was famous for speaking French with a British accent that the French loved.

The Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, wrote that “the most Parisian of all Britons has left us”. message on twitter. “We will never forget her singing, her laughter and her incomparable accent that always stood by us.”

Birkin suffered a minor stroke in 2021 and recently canceled a string of concerts due to health issues.

She leaves behind two daughters, singer-actress Charlotte Gainsbourg and Lou Doillon, from Mr. Gainsbourg and French film director Jacques Doillon, both of whom, like their mother, are designers and fashionistas. It has inspired fans all over the world.

Guy Trevey Contributed to the report from New York.

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