The Birth of the Birkin Bag


Jane Birkin: A Life of Art, Music, and Fashion

Jane Mallory Birkin, born on December 14, 1946, was a British and French actress and singer who left an indelible mark on the worlds of cinema, music, and fashion. She passed away on July 16, 2023, but her legacy continues to inspire and influence generations.

Early Life and Career

A native of London, Birkin began her career as an actress, appearing in minor roles in Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blowup (1966), and Kaleidoscope (1966). In 1968, she met Serge Gainsbourg while co-starring with him in Slogan, marking the beginning of a decade-long working and personal relationship.

The duo released their debut album Jane Birkin/Serge Gainsbourg (1969), and Birkin also appeared in the controversial film Je t’aime moi non plus (1976) under Gainsbourg’s direction.

International Fame

.Though she mostly worked in France where she had become a major star, Birkin occasionally appeared in English-language films such as the Agatha Christie adaptations Death on the Nile (1978) and Evil Under the Sun (1982), as well as James Ivory’s A Soldier’s Daughter Never Cries (1998).

After separating from Gainsbourg in 1980, Birkin continued to work as both an actress and a singer, appearing in various independent films and recording numerous solo albums. In 2016, she starred in the Academy Award-nominated short film La femme et le TGV, which she said would be her final film role.

The Birkin Bag

Beyond her contributions to music and cinema, Birkin is perhaps best known for inspiring the creation of Hermès’ best-selling handbag: the Birkin. The iconic tote, released in 1984, has become a universal status symbol, boasting record-high resale prices and countless celebrity collectors.

The story goes that after meeting Hermès executive Jean-Louis Dumas on an airplane, Birkin sketched out the design on a sick bag, basing her blueprint on one of the brand’s popular models. Dumas added upon Birkin’s sketch by taking inspiration from Hermès’ Haut à Courroies bag, eventually gifting the actress a black calfskin prototype of the Birkin and suggesting that the new purse be named after her


Jane Birkin lived mainly in France from the late 1960s onwards, and would acquire French citizenship. She was the mother of photographer Kate Barry, with her first husband John Barry; actress and singer Charlotte Gainsbourg, with Serge Gainsbourg; and musician Lou Doillon, with Jacques Doillon.

Her influence on French cinema, music, and fashion is undeniable, and her name continues to be synonymous with style and elegance. The Birkin bag remains a testament to her timeless appeal and her unique sense of style. Jane Birkin’s life was a testament to her talent, creativity, and enduring influence in the world of art, music, and fashion

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