French culture icon Jane Birkin, the beloved actress and singer known for her English charm, distinctive style, and enchanting French-accented vocals, has passed away at the age of 76. The news of her death was confirmed by France’s Culture Ministry and reported by French media.
Born in London, Birkin captured the hearts of the French people with her impeccable fashion sense and captivating presence. She was renowned for her musical collaborations and romantic relationship with French singer Serge Gainsbourg. Together, they created memorable songs, most notably the sensuous “Je t’aime moi non plus,” where Birkin’s ethereal British singing voice intertwined with Gainsbourg’s gruff baritone. Birkin’s talent extended beyond music, and she starred in numerous films, including notable roles in “Blow-Up” (1966) and “Death on the Nile” (1978).
Jane Birkin will forever be associated with the Birkin bag, a luxury handbag crafted by Hermès. Her exquisite taste and elegance inspired the creation of this iconic accessory. The Birkin bag has since become a highly coveted item, with prices ranging from $9,000 to $500,000, adorning the arms of celebrities like the Kardashians, Cardi B, Jennifer Lopez, Mariah Carey, Victoria Beckham, and Lady Gaga.
In addition to her artistic endeavors, Birkin was revered in France for her political activism. In 2022, she stood in solidarity with Iranian women protesting against oppressive modesty laws by joining other French stars in cutting off their hair. Birkin’s daughter with Gainsbourg, Charlotte Gainsbourg, symbolically cut a lock of her mother’s hair as a tribute to Mahsa Amini, who tragically lost her life after being arrested by morality police.
Reports from French news outlets Liberation and BFM TV indicated that Birkin was discovered deceased at her residence in Paris. According to Le Figaro, Birkin had faced health issues in recent years, resulting in a decrease in her public appearances and ability to perform.
The French Culture Ministry expressed their condolences on Twitter, describing Birkin as a “timeless Francophone icon.”
BFM TV reported that Birkin had experienced a mild stroke in 2021, leading to the cancellation of her shows that year. She also had to cancel performances in March due to a broken shoulder blade.
In May, Birkin had intended to return to the stage, but the plans were postponed. The French broadcaster quoted her as saying that she needed more time and assuring her fans that she would reunite with them in the upcoming fall.