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Singer and actress Jane Birkin, who inspired the Birkin bag, dead at 76

Singer and actress Jane Birkin, who inspired the Birkin bag, dead at 76

Jane Birkin

Actor and musician Jane Birkin has died aged 76. Birkin was found at home by her caregiver. No cause of death has yet been revealed.

The English-French star enjoyed a long and fruitful career in film and music and maintained on- and off-screen relationships with Serge Gainsbourg for decades.

After meeting while appearing together in the 1969 French film Slogan, they released a collaborative debut album the same year.

Jane Birkin
English actress Jane Birkin and French singer-songwriter Serge Gainsbourg, at home in Paris. (Photo by Reg Lancaster/Getty Images)

The pair split in 1980, with Birkin continuing to release solo albums and appear in a number of films.

Birkin released her most recent studio album, Oh! Pardon tu dormais… in 2020. In 2017 she released Birkin/Gainsbourg: Le Symphonique, a collection of songs Gainsbourg had written for Birkin during and after their 12-year-long romantic relationship, reworked with orchestral arrangements.

In 2021, Birkin was the subject of Jane by Charlotte, a documentary directed by Charlotte Gainsbourg, Birkin’s daughter with Serge.

She was set to appear as part of the American Film Festival in Deauville, France, to discuss the film but canceled the appearance after suffering a minor stroke.

Jane Birkin
Photo by Getty Images

Birkin was also a model and came to be widely seen as a fashion trendsetter, inspiring Hermes’ famous Birkin handbag.

“I was on an airplane when a plastic bag holding all my things broke and everything fell out—my date book, papers, everything,” she told T: The New York Times Style Magazine in 2010.

“Just as I was saying how I wish Hermès would make a bag that could fit all my things, the man sitting next to me happened to work for Hermès – it was Jean-Louis Dumas, the head designer! They already had the Kelly bag, named after Grace Kelly, so he began work on the Birkin bag. I went down to the atelier and he had made it in cardboard. And we talked about it and I said they should make some changes, like making pockets bigger. And that’s how it was made.”



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