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Jane Birkin: The British Star Who Conquered France


Jane Birkin: The British Star Who Conquered France


Jane Birkin, the actor, and singer who embodied the spirit of French culture, has died at 76. She was a British-born artist who moved to Paris in her twenties and never looked back. She was a muse, a lover, an icon, and an activist who left a mark on the world of music, cinema, and fashion.


Birkin started her career as an actress in London, appearing in films like Blow-up and Kaleidoscope in the 1969s. She met Serge Gainsbourg, the legendary French singer-songwriter, on the set of Slogan in 1968 and fell in love with him. They became France's most glamorous and scandalous couple, famous for their work and their lifestyle. Birkin sang with Gainsbourg on the provocative Je t'aime...moi non plus in 1969, which was banned in several countries for its explicit sexual content. They also collaborated on albums like Histoire de Melody Nelson and Jane Birkin / Serge Gainsbourg. They had a daughter, Charlotte, who followed in their footsteps as an actor and singer. They split up in 1980 but remains friends until his death in 1991.


Birkin pursued her own artistic path after leaving Gainsbourg, exploring different genres and styles. She starred in several films, earning three nominations at the Cesars - France's Oscars - starting with La Pirate in 1985. She also directed four films, including Boxes in 2007, which was based on her own family history. She released 14 solo albums, some of them featuring songs written by Gainsbourg or her other lovers, such as director Jacques Doillon, with whom she had a daughter, Lolu. She also sang duets with artists like Brain Ferry, Iggy Pop, and Wainwright. She was known for her humanitarian work and supported causes such as Amnesty International, Aids research, and Tibetan rights. She was awarded the OBE by Queen Elizabeth II in 2001 and the Legion of Honour by France in 2017.


Birkin was also a fashion icon who inspired one the famous and coveted handbags in the world: the Hermes Birkin bag. The story goes that she was sitting next to Jean-Louis Dumas, the executive chairman of Hermes, on a flight in 1981. She complained that she couldn't find a bag suitable for her needs as a young mother. He sketched a spacious and elegant bag with pockets on a sick bag and offered to make for her. He named it after her and gave it to her it exchange for using her surname. The Birkin bag became a symbol of luxury and exclusivity, with prices ranging from $9,000 to over $500,000. Birkin donated the royalties she received from Hermes to her charities.


Jane Birkin was a unique and influential figure in the cultural scene of France and beyond. She inspired generations of artists and fans with her beauty, grace and spirit. She was a British star who conquered France with her talent and charisma. She will be dearly missed by all who loved her...

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