Renowned singer, actress, and fashion icon Jane Birkin, known for her influential presence in both British and French entertainment, has died at the age of 76, according to a close source. Birkin had been battling health issues in recent years, leading to the cancellation of her scheduled concerts. Details regarding the cause of her death remain unknown at this time.
Birkin rose to prominence through her captivating relationship with the legendary singer-songwriter Serge Gainsbourg, as well as her distinctively accented French. Her unique fashion sense, featuring flared jeans, mini dresses, and tousled bangs, solidified her status as a style icon during the 1970s.
In a testament to her impact on the fashion world, luxury brand Hermes immortalized Birkin’s name in 1984 by naming one of their handbags after her. This coveted accessory continues to be revered as a symbol of status and sophistication.
The acclaimed artist crossed the English Channel in 1968 at the age of 22 to star alongside Gainsbourg, who was 18 years her senior, in a film. This marked the beginning of a tumultuous 13-year relationship that would cement them as France’s most renowned couple. Their bohemian lifestyle and hedonistic tendencies captivated the public just as much as their creative endeavors.
Birkin, with her soft voice and androgynous allure, quickly became a sex symbol, particularly after her steamy duet with Gainsbourg, “Je t’aime… moi non plus,” in 1969. The provocative track faced bans on radio in numerous countries and drew condemnation from the Vatican, yet it achieved global success.
Reflecting on her relationship with Gainsbourg, Birkin shared in a 2006 interview with CNN, “He and I became the most famous of couples in that strange way because of ‘Je t’aime’ and because we stuck together for 13 years, and he went on being my friend until the day he died. Who could ask for more?” Birkin embraced Paris as her home, having been adopted by the city she adored for her distinct accent and undeniable charm.
Born to an actress mother and a naval officer father, Birkin was previously married to James Bond composer John Barry, with whom she had a daughter named Kate. However, their marriage ended after three years. Birkin’s encounter with Gainsbourg on the set of a romantic comedy marked a turning point in her life as she relocated to France. The couple had a daughter named Charlotte, who later achieved great success as an actress and singer.
The musical and romantic relationship between Gainsbourg and Birkin was famously stormy, often marked by intense arguments. During one heated altercation, Birkin famously threw herself into the River Seine after hurling a custard pie at Gainsbourg’s face. However, in 1980, Birkin bravely ventured on her own path, leaving behind France’s beloved bad boy.
Throughout her career, spanning around 70 films, Birkin collaborated with esteemed French directors such as Bertrand Tavernier, Jean-Luc Godard, Alain Resnais, James Ivory, and Agnes Varda. Despite her diverse body of work, Birkin remained eternally associated with Gainsbourg, who continued writing songs for her even after their separation. One such song, “Les dessous chics,” captured the emotions of a troubled relationship, highlighting the beauty found within separation itself, as Birkin expressed in a 2018 interview with AFP.
Tragically, Birkin’s eldest daughter, Kate Barry, a talented photographer, passed away in an apparent suicide in 2013. She is survived by her daughter with Gainsbourg, Charlotte, as well as her daughter Lou Doillon, a singer, whom she had during a 13-year relationship with French director Jacques Doillon. The legacy of Jane Birkin, an icon of style and artistry, will undoubtedly endure in the hearts of her fans and the world of entertainment.