Singer and actress Jane Birkin has died

todayAugust 12, 2023 4

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Singer and actress Jane Birkin has died

The singer and actress Jane Birkin has died at the age of 76.

The English-French star, who inspired the Hermès Birkin designer handbag, was found at her home in Paris.

The star, who is best known for her hit single “Je t’aime… moi non plus”, with then-husband Serge Gainsbourg was described as a “French icon” by President Emmanuel Macron, who led tributes.

He tweeted: “Because she embodied freedom, because she sang the most beautiful words of our language, Jane Birkin was a French icon.

“A complete artist, her voice was as sweet as her engagements were fiery.

“She bequeaths us tunes and images that will never leave us.”

Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, described Birkin respectively as “the most Parisian of the English”.

“We will never forget her songs, her laughter or her incomparable accent that have always accompanied us,” she wrote in a tweet.

While Rima Abdul Malak, France’s minister of culture, tweeted: “The most French of Britons is gone.”

“Jane B was mischief, impertinent elegance, the never-outdated emblem of an entire era, a murmuring voice that remains our idol,” she added.

“A woman of heart, committed, whose disappearance leaves us Alone In Babylone,” she said referencing one of Birkin’s songs.


Birkin in 1970. Pic: AP

The Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr also tweeted: “RIP Jane Birkin. Playing on her album ‘Fictions’ in 2006 was a lovely experience. A sweet and kind person with a heart for art.”

Ms Birkin had several health issues in recent years that stopped her from performing, including a mild stroke in 2021.

She had also been forced to postpone several concerts in Paris scheduled in May after breaking her shoulder blade in March.

“I’ve always been a big optimist, and I realise that it still takes me a little while to be able to be on stage again and with you. I love being with you so much,” she said in a statement at the time.

French singer Serge Gainsbourg and his girlfriend British actress Jane Birkin  in 1974

Gainsbourg and Birkin in 1974. Pic: AP

Born in London in 1946, but having lived in France since the 1960s, Birkin began her career as an actress. She starred in 1966 film Blow Up, in which she controversially appeared naked in a threesome sex scene.

In 1965 she married British James Bond composer John Barry. The pair divorced in 1968. They shared daughter, Kate Barry, who died in 2013 after falling from her fourth-floor flat in Paris.

It was not until her on and off-screen relationship with Gainsbourg, that Birkin gained international fame.

The pair met while co-starring in 1969 French satirical romantic comedy, Slogan, and went on to release a debut album in the same year.

Jane Birkin performing in 2018. Pic:AP

Birkin performing in 2018. Pic:AP

The album featured the sexually explicit song “Je t’aime… moi non plus” which reached number one in the UK Singles Chart, despite being banned from a number of radio stations.

The couple went on to have a daughter, Charlotte Gainsbourg, who is an actress.


Birkin and her daughter Charlotte Gainsbourg. Pic: AP

After their split in 1980 Birkin continued to work, appearing in multiple films and recording numerous solo albums in both French and English, which Gainsbourg regularly wrote for.

Jane Birkin

Pic: AP

Her acting credits included 1966 crime comedy Kaleidoscope, a 1978 adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile and mystery film Evil Under the Sun in 1982.

In 2016, she starred in the Oscar-nominated short film La femme et le TGV, which she said would be her final film role.

Inspiration for the Birkin bag

In 1981, Birkin was reportedly sat next to Hermès chief executive Jean-Louis Dumas on a flight from Paris to London, according to L’Officiel magazine.

Birkin handbag

Hermès Birkin handbag. Pic: AP

Following a conversation between the two about how difficult it was to find a bag that could fulfil Birkin’s needs as a mother-of-two, the Birkin bag was born.

Mr Dumas designed the bag on the spot and named it after Birkin when it came into production in 1984, according to reports.

The handbag has gone on to become a status symbol, with some fetching well over $10,000 (£7,638).

The luxury accessory even became the centre of a 2001 episode of Sex And The City, when Samantha – played by Kim Cattrall – is told that a $4,000 (£3,055) Birkin has a five-year waitlist.

Birkin with the bag she inspired

Birkin with the bag she inspired

Some of the most famous faces to own a Birkin include former US first lady Melania Trump, rapper Cardi B, pop star-turned fashion designer Victoria Beckham and reality-TV royalty Kim Kardashian.

Birkin also made headlines for her philanthropy and humanitarian work, where she worked closely with Amnesty International and Unicef.

In 2022, she took part in a protest video in which she and her daughter cut off locks of their own hair in support of anti-government protesters in Iran.

Birkin is survived by daughters Ms Gainsbourg and Lou Doillon.

Written by: Newsroom

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