''French icon'' Jane Birkin passes away at 76
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”French icon” Jane Birkin passes away at 76

July 17, 2023

Yesterday, the world bid a solemn farewell to the quintessential British-French icon, Jane Birkin, the cherished actress, singer, and eponym of the coveted Hermès Birkin bag. Residing in Paris, the heart of chic elegance, she departed at the age of 76, leaving behind a rich legacy of fashion, film, and music.

In the early morning of Sunday, the unexpected news of Birkin’s demise surfaced. The renowned artist had been battling health issues since suffering a stroke in September 2021, which subsequently led to numerous concert cancellations and prolonged her retreat from the public eye.

Born in London, Jane Birkin seized the limelight in the late 1960s, demonstrating her versatile talent in a variety of mediums. Her debut in Jack Smight’s “Kaleidoscope” and Michelangelo Antonioni’s controversial film “Blow-Up” in 1966 marked the advent of her soaring career. Her risqué duet with the French music legend, Serge Gainsbourg, “Je T’aime…Moi Non Plus”, stirred a sensation after it was banned by the BBC and denounced by the Vatican for its sensual undertones.

Birkin’s filmography is as impressive as it is diverse, encompassing over 60 films, including the likes of “La Piscine”, “The Pleasure Pit”, and Agnès Varda’s “One Hundred and One Nights”. Her directorial venture, “Boxes”, was an official selection at the Cannes Film Festival in 2007. Throughout her career, Birkin was nominated for three César Awards and honored with the French Chevalier of the National Order of Merit in 2004.

Known as much for her personal life as her public persona, Birkin was famously married to James Bond composer John Barry, with whom she had a daughter, Kate. Later, she found love with Gainsbourg while working on a film, moved to France, and gave birth to another daughter, Charlotte Gainsbourg, who herself has had a successful career in acting and filmmaking. Their unique bond was beautifully encapsulated in the film “Jane by Charlotte”, which debuted at Cannes in 2021.

''French icon'' Jane Birkin passes away at 76
Jane by Charlotte’s poster

Birkin’s influence extended beyond the film and music industry, shaping global fashion trends. She brought a dash of tomboy charm to the fashion industry, expressing her personality through androgynous style. Her serendipitous encounter with Hermès‘ then-CEO Jean-Louis Dumas on a Paris-London flight led to the creation of the iconic ”Birkin bag” in 1984. Designed to cater to her needs as a young mother, this handbag, with its ample space and practical pockets, quickly became one of the world’s most desirable accessories. Despite its exorbitant price tag, ranging from $15,000 to over $100,000 for exotic versions, the Birkin bag’s prestige remains unrivaled.

Always an advocate for ethical practices, Birkin called on Hermès in 2015 to dissociate her name from the crocodile Birkin bag after a PETA video showcased the horrifying treatment of animals. After an agreement was reached, Hermès continued to use her name, and the bags remain a symbol of unrivaled luxury. Over the years, she donated the five bags she received from Hermès, showcasing her commitment to philanthropy.

Jane Birkin leaves behind her daughters, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Lou Doillon, having lost her daughter Kate Barry in 2013. Her legacy, a fusion of fashion, talent, and audacity, continues to resonate, marking the end of an era. Jane Birkin, your spirit will forever imbue the realms of music, cinema, and fashion. Rest in peace!

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