Actress Jane Birkin, a "French icon," passes away at 76

Jane Birkin, a renowned singer, actress, and fashion icon, has passed away at the age of 76. Born in London, Birkin found fame singing in French and relocating to France in the 1970s. Their relationship made her internationally famous, with the hit song "Je T' non plus" recorded in 1968. The duet was banned on radio in several countries and condemned by the Vatican due to its overtly sexual lyrics, but introduced the pair to a new international audience. Birkin was described as a "French icon" and a "complete artist" who "bequeaths us tunes and images that will never leave us." France's Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said she "transcended generations". The couple was together for 12 years but remained friends after their split. Birkin frequently defended the man she became so closely associated with, including against charges that he was a "harasser" in an interview in the Times in 2020. She continued to promote his work long after his death in 1991. The couple split in 1981, and Birkin continued her acting and singing career, releasing albums including Baby Alone in Babylone in 1983 and Amour des Feintes in 1990. She was also a model and came to be widely seen as a fashion trendsetter, inspiring the Birkin handbag, a style put into production by luxury French brand Hermès in 1984. In a chance encounter on an Air France flight, Birkin spilled the contents of her bag, which Dumas immediately sketched a supple and spacious rectangular holdall with a burnished flap and saddle stitching. The Birkin handbag became a fashion hit and has spawned several imitations, but Birkin told the Guardian in 2006 that she loved it, but she lugged too much stuff around in it that she believe it is part of the reason she has tendonitis. Birkin campaigned for numerous causes throughout her life, including asking Hermès to drop her name from its product in 2015 over animal welfare concerns. Birkin's acting credits included films such as Blow Up, Death on the Nile, and Evil Under the Sun. She released a self-penned album in 2002 called Arabesque and a collection of live recordings in 2009 under the title Jane at the Palace.


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