Iconic British Singer and Actress Jane Birkin Dies at 76, Leaving Behind a Legacy of Music, Film, and Fashion in France

Jane Birkin, the British singer and actress who gained fame in France, passed away at the age of 76, according to CNN affiliate BFMTV. Birkin spent nearly six decades in her adopted home, moving to France at just 20 years old without knowing the language. She was affectionately known as France’s favorite “anglaise.” Birkin’s rise to stardom began when she fell in love with French actor and singer Serge Gainsbourg shortly after arriving in Paris. The couple’s relationship captivated the public, and they collaborated on the provocative duet “Je t’aime… moi non plus,” which was banned in several countries. President Emmanuel Macron tweeted, “Because she embodied freedom, because she sang the most beautiful words in our language, Jane Birkin was a French icon.”

While her relationship with Gainsbourg brought her fame, Birkin also became a star in her own right and a fashion icon in France, despite her British background. She even inspired the famous Birkin bag by Hermes, a luxury house in France. Birkin’s cause of death is not yet known, but she had been in poor health and suffered a stroke in 2021. One of her last public appearances was at the premiere of the documentary “Jane by Charlotte,” which explored her relationship with her daughter Charlotte.

Birkin is survived by her daughters Lou Doillon, a singer and actress, and Charlotte Gainsbourg, who is also an actress. Another daughter, Kate Barry, tragically passed away in 2013. Jane Birkin, born in London in 1946, had a brief and unhappy marriage to British composer John Barry in 1965 before moving to Paris in 1968. It was there that she met Gainsbourg and their relationship produced the international hit “Je t’aime… moi non plus.”

Birkin achieved success in French cinema, starring in over 70 films and working with renowned directors such as Jean-Luc Godard and Agnes Varda. She also received a Cesar nomination in 1985 for her performance in the film “La Pirate.” In addition to her acting career, Birkin had a prolific music career, releasing multiple albums in French. Her most recent album, “Oh! Pardon tu dormais” released in 2020, delved into the tragedy of her first daughter’s death.

While Birkin continued to showcase her talents in various artistic realms, it was her involvement in creating the Birkin bag that solidified her status as a household name. In an interview with CNN’s Chief International Anchor Christiane Amanpour, Birkin shared how a chance encounter with the chairman of Hermes on a flight led to the creation of the iconic bag. The Birkin bag, introduced in 1984, remains one of the most recognized and coveted fashion accessories. Demand for the bag still outstrips supply, with rare versions fetching hundreds of thousands of dollars at auction.

Jane Birkin leaves behind a legacy as a beloved icon in France, known for her talent, style, and contribution to the world of fashion. Her multifaceted career and influential collaborations have solidified her place in both French and international culture. She will be remembered as a true talent and a trailblazer in the entertainment industry.