Jane Birkin, the British actress, pop singer and namesake of the Hermès Birkin designer purse, died on Sunday. She was 76.
Born in London, Birkin adopted France as her dwelling nation, the place she turned a world star after placing up a musical and romantic partnership with French singer Serge Gainsbourg. Identified for her lengthy, eye-skimming bangs and basic wardrobe, Birkin epitomized the easy French-chic type.
The French Ministry of Tradition, which confirmed her loss of life, referred to as her a “timeless Francophone icon.”
“Essentially the most French of Britons is gone,” tradition minister Rima Abdul Malak mentioned in a tweet. “Jane B was mischief, impertinent class, the never-outdated emblem of a complete period, a murmuring voice that is still our idol.”
Her performing credit embody a minor position within the 1966 crime rom-com Kaleidoscope and the 1978 adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Demise on the Nile.
Birkin was married to James Bond movie rating composer John Barry from 1965 to 1968, with whom she had a daughter, Kate Barry. Kate, a photographer, died in 2013 at age 46 after falling from the window of her fourth-floor flat in Paris.
In 1968, Birkin joined Gainsbourg for the breathy hit “Je T’aime… Moi Non Plus” (“I Love You… Me Neither”). The track was banned from radio play in a number of international locations and condemned by the Vatican for its sexual innuendos and heavy respiration — which solely made its reputation skyrocket.
Birkin and Gainsbourg, who died in 1991, have been collectively for 12 years however remained mates and collaborators after their break up.
The Birkin bag, a luxurious “it” bag identified for its lofty price ticket, was first created in 1984 for the actress by Hermès CEO Jean-Louis Dumas. Just a few years prior, as NPR beforehand reported, Birkin discovered herself seated subsequent to Dumas on a London-bound flight. The actress, who’d been identified to tote round a straw basket to carry her necessities, relayed to Dumas her issue to find the perfect-sized weekend bag — one greater than the Hermès “Kelly” purse, however smaller than a suitcase. She pulled out the airplane’s “vomit bag” and sketched out her concept to indicate Dumas, she mentioned in a 2018 interview with CBS Information. She joked that she had turn into so synonymous with the famed bag that it might in the future be the spotlight of her obituary.
Birkin, additionally identified for her activism, requested for her title to be pulled from affiliation with the favored crocodile-skin model of the Birkin bag in 2015 over considerations of animal cruelty. Birkin has auctioned off her luggage over time for varied causes together with earthquake aid. She’s additionally mentioned she had an association with the designer to donate a portion of Hermès bag gross sales on to charity, even after her loss of life.
The actress died at her dwelling in Paris, in keeping with French media reviews. Birkin suffered a light stroke in 2021, The New York Instances reported, and had lately referred to as off live shows on account of well being points.
“As a result of she embodied freedom, as a result of she sang essentially the most lovely phrases of our language, Jane Birkin was a French icon,” wrote French President Emmanuel Macron. “An entire artist, her voice was as candy as her engagements have been fiery. She bequeaths us tunes and pictures that may by no means depart us.”
“We’ll always remember her songs, her laughter or her incomparable accent which have all the time accompanied us,” tweeted Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris.
She is survived by two daughters, one from her relationship with Gainsbourg and one from her relationship with French movie director Jacques Doillon: Singer-actresses Charlotte Gainsbourg and Lou Doillon.
NPR’s Eleanor Beardsley contributed to this story.