The singer and actress Jane Birkin, Known as the inspiration behind the Birkin bag, has died at 76

Renowned Singer and Actress Jane Birkin, Famed Muse for the Birkin Bag, Passes Away at 76

British-born actress and vocalist Jane Birkin, a rebellious figure of the 1960s who gained immense popularity in France, has passed away at the age of 76 in Paris. The French Culture Ministry described her as an enduring Francophone icon. According to local sources, she was discovered deceased at her residence. Birkin had experienced a mild stroke in 2021 following previous heart complications.

Internationally recognized for her 1969 hit song “Je t’aime… moi non plus,” in which she and her former partner, the late French singer and songwriter Serge Gainsbourg, performed provocatively explicit lyrics, Birkin resided in France from the late 1960s onward. Beyond her musical success and numerous film roles, she was widely admired for her warm demeanor and unwavering advocacy for women’s and LGBTQ rights.

Ms. Birkin co-starred in the film “Don Juan, or if Don Juan Was a Woman,” by the director Roger Vadim

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo expressed, “The most Parisian of the English has left us. We will never forget her songs, her laughter, and her distinctive accent that always accompanied us.” Jane Mallory Birkin was born in London in December 1946 to British actor Judy Campbell and Royal Navy commander David Birkin.

Her stage debut occurred at the age of 17, and she later appeared in the 1965 musical “Passion Flower Hotel” composed by conductor and composer John Barry, whom she married briefly. However, her journey to fame truly commenced in France, where her romantic involvement with the tormented national star Gainsbourg, coupled with her tomboyish style and endearing British-accented French, captivated the nation. Some believed she intentionally cultivated her accent.

After her separation from Gainsbourg in 1981, Birkin continued her career as a singer and actress, performing on stage and releasing albums such as “Baby Alone in Babylone” in 1983 and “Amour des Feintes.” In 2002, she wrote and released her own album, “Arabesque,” and in 2009, a compilation of live recordings titled “Jane at the Palace.”

French singer Etienne Daho, who produced and composed Birkin’s final album in 2020, expressed, “It’s unimaginable to live in a world without you.” Birkin first encountered Gainsbourg on the set of the film “Slogan” in 1969, while he was recovering from a breakup with Brigitte Bardot. Their passionate affair swiftly captivated the nation.

That same year, they released “Je T’Aime… Moi Non Plus” (“I Love You… Me Neither”), a sensually charged song originally intended for Bardot, featuring Gainsbourg’s explicit lyrics intertwined with Birkin’s breathy moans and cries. The song was banned by the BBC and condemned by the Vatican. Gainsbourg’s drinking ultimately strained their relationship, leading Birkin to leave him in 1981 and live with film director Jacques Doillon. Nevertheless, she maintained a close connection with the troubled singer until his passing in March 1991.

During this period, Birkin inspired the renowned Birkin bag by the French luxury brand Hermes, after CEO Jean-Louis Dumas observed her struggling with her straw bag on a flight to London, causing its contents to spill onto the floor. She is survived by two daughters, singer and actress Charlotte Gainsbourg, born in 1971, and actor Lou Doillon, born in 1982. She also had a daughter named Kate, born in 1967, who sadly passed away in 2013.

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