Remembering Jane Birkin: An Icon of Fashion, Film, and Music
By: Olivia Marrone
Her abundant collection of films and discography, along with her effortlessly chic style, signature fringe haircut, and the iconic Hermès Birkin bag named after her, exemplified her lasting influence on fashion, the arts, and culture. To honor her legacy, here is a look at her illustrious career and explore the profound legacy she leaves behind.
Jane Birkin’s Film And Discography
A fixture in the 60s/French New Wave art scene, Birkin moved from England to France in 1968. Over the course of her early career, Birkin featured and starred in films such as:
In addition to her film career, Birkin boasts an extensive discography featuring iconic songs like “Je t’aime moi non plus” and “Ballade de Melody Nelson,” created in collaboration with her ex-partner, the renowned French singer/songwriter, actor, and director Serge Gainsbourg. Her musical journey extended up to her final album ‘Oh! Pardon tu dormais‘ (2020).
Both on-screen and in her music, Birkin exuded ease and warmth that translated into her standout style, solidifying her position as a fashion icon.
Jane Birkin’s Style and Impact on Fashion
Throughout her career, Birkin earned widespread recognition for her impeccable sense of style. While she embraced popular 60s/70s trends like mini skirts and bell-bottom jeans, it was her down-to-earth approach that solidified her status as a timeless French style icon.
Her trademark combination of a white t-shirt, jeans, and the iconic basket bag made a lasting impression. Furthermore, she paved the way for current fashion trends such as crochet and sheer dresses, while her signature fringe inspired countless to emulate her chic allure with their own bangs.
How the Birkin Bag Came to Be
Jane Birkin effortlessly embodied a timeless blend of classic and modern, epitomizing the coveted “Je ne sais quoi” among fashion enthusiasts. The iconic Birkin bag itself originated from her practical need, sparking a luxurious legacy.
The story goes that Birkin was seated on a flight next to Hermès Executive Chairman, Jean-Louis Dumas, and expressed that she did not have a bag with enough room to carry her belongings.
“Why don’t you make a bag that’s four times the Kelly that you can leave open?” said Birkin. “Because girls like to have things on the end of their arm to put all their stuff in.”
Shortly after, she drew a sketch that became the inspiration for the now iconic bag.
It is reported that Hermès paid Jane Birkin around $40,000 annually as part of a name association agreement. Remarkably, she generously donated all these proceeds to different charitable causes.
Despite the bag’s name connection, the actress owned only a few Birkin bags during her lifetime. In 2014, she put one of them up for auction, with the proceeds benefitting Anno’s Africa, a nonprofit named after her late nephew.
Jane Birkin’s Lasting Legacy
As we reflect on Jane Birkin’s illustrious career, we are reminded of the profound influence she wielded in film, music, and fashion. From her unforgettable collaborations with Serge Gainsbourg to the iconic Hermes Birkin bag bearing her name, Birkin’s impact remains as vibrant today as ever.
Jane Birkin’s legacy will continue to inspire generations of artists and fashion enthusiasts alike, ensuring that her memory lives on as a symbol of elegance, grace, and enduring artistry.