Actress and singer Jane Birkin has died at age 76. According to French news outlets, as per the ABC, Birkin was found dead in her home in Paris; she has previously suffered a stroke in 2021, and had dealt with heart problems for a number of years.
An official statement from Birkin’s family has not been released, but the singer was praised by many artists and public figures including French President Emmanuel Macron, who called her a “French icon”. “Because she embodied freedom, because she sang the most beautiful words of our language, Jane Birkin was a French icon,” Macron wrote on Twitter.
“French Icon”: Jane Birkin Dies Age 76
Birkin was born in London and rose to fame after starring in the 1966 film Blow-Up, before decamping to France to work on the film Slogan, where she met her husband, songwriter and artist Serge Gainsbourg. They were together for nearly 15 years and became France’s most famous celebrity couple, and duetted on the famous track ‘Je t’aime…moi non plus’, which was banned in several countries for being sexually explicit.
Birkin would star in more than 70 films in France and released numerous albums – the last of which arrived in 2020.
Birkin is also renowned for lending her name to the wildly famous Hermés bag. The story goes that in 1983 Birkin was seated next to Hermès chief executive, Jean-Louis Dumas, on a flight from Paris to London, and complained to the fashion designer about finding a bag that could accommodate everything for a mother of two.
The Birkin bag was launched in 1984, and went on to become one of the most iconic fashion items of the 20th century. In 2012, though, Birkin denounced the bag and asked her name be removed from it.
“Having been alerted to the cruel practices endured by crocodiles during their slaughter for the production of Hermès bags carrying my name … I have asked Hermès Group to rename the Birkin until better practices responding to international norms can be implemented for the production of this bag,” she told the AFP, as per ABC.
Throughout her life, Birkin was a staunch advocate for the rights of women and the LGBTIQ community.