Jane Birkin

Jane Birkin 1946 - 2023.....more than a fashion icon

Jane Birkin 1946-2023 has sadly died, found dead in her apartment in France by a caregiver, she was not in good health but on face value it was not expected.  Birkin's name is synonymous  with effortless elegance and timeless style. Her impeccable taste and distinctive fashion choices along with the creation of the  Birkin bag she designed for Hermes have left an indelible mark on the industry. With her iconic fringe, tousled hair, and a nonchalant attitude, Birkin embodied the epitome of French chic. She revolutionized the concept of casual dressing, effortlessly combining simplicity with sophistication and french chic even though she heralded from England.

Some might say, Jane Birkin and her impact on the fashion world can be best encapsulated by the iconic Hermès Birkin bag, which was named after her. The bag became a symbol of luxury and refinement, epitomizing Birkin's refined yet accessible style.

Throughout her career, Birkin's fashion choices exuded an air of confidence and individuality. She embraced bohemian influences, carefully curated, showcasing a perfect balance between comfort and elegance.

Her style is synonymous still with the most sought after collectibles in the world of vintage fashion. No doubt fashion internet be a wash with chatter of her iconic fashion style and her design of the Birkin Bag. But as I understood it she had come to grow frustrated with this association and did not want this to be her legacy. An activist from the beginning of her career with her first film even noteable it could be said in that iconic lace crochet maxi dress by Chanel from the Spring/Summer 1969 collection. designed by Karl Lagerfeld. I recall from a recent US interview  I don’t know if it was CNN, she said she wishes to remembered for her music and her acting, being remembered for our actions and not possessions is testimony to her as her commitment to social justice was remarkable. The ultimate francofile she marched with her daughter in 2002 against the far right politician Marie Le Penn, she was committed the plight of Chechyna and the ethnic cleansing during the war in Yugoslavia. I also recall the campaign she did for women suffering from domestic abuse - especially non-French speaking women in France, during the  outbreak of Covid in 2020. They loved in her France for being an activist. In 2022, she joined other screen and music stars in France in chopping off locks of their hair in support of protesters in Iran. To us in fashion she is inextricably known to us through her iconic style. But I honestly feel her activism, her acting and her music is her greatest legacy  She will always be inextricably linked to Serge Gainsbourg.  She the opposite of his former lover Bardot but she know less beautiful but different. Birkin recalled to Elle in 2015 how Yves Saint Laurent was a great friend of Serge and how she would be taking to the YSL salon and dressed in YSL Haute Couture as Serge and Yves where great friends."I remember when Yves first decided to do ready-to-wear, Serge was furious. He said, 'You're selling out! You're no longer an artist!' Yves was really upset by this. He said, 'But Serge, I have to do this. I can't just keep making couture clothes for the rich and famous. I want to make fashion accessible to everyone.' Serge eventually came around, but he never really forgave Yves for doing ready-to-wear. He said, 'It's not the same. It's not art.''  I hate to say it but it is undeniable Gainsbourg was instrumental in some of her iconic looks.  Right to end and after battling leukaemia and the suicide of her eldest daughter she was committed to performing and reinterpreting the music of Gainsbourg. They were an incredible together but she really did make that impact in her own right. Oh and that Birkin bag, well you can’t take it with you. I understood she would regularly auction off her bags for charity and made Hermes make sizeable charitable donations in her name. 

Beyond her personal style, Birkin's impact on fashion extended beyond her wardrobe. Her free-spirited approach to life and refusal to conform to societal norms challenged traditional fashion standards. She embodied a sense of liberation and rebellion and the country she made her home RIP Jane Birkin - what a woman and a life!  




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