French-British actress who was inspiration for Birkin handbag dies at 76

French-British actress who was inspiration for Birkin handbag dies at 76

According to BFM TV, the septuagenarian, who lent her name to the Hermes Birkin designer handbag, was found dead at her home by her caregiver on Sunday.

Birkin’s death has continued to stir reactions from millions of her fans across the world, particularly in the United Kingdom and France, including President Emmanuel Macron who described her as French Icon.

Macron tweeted, “Because she embodied freedom, because she sang the most beautiful words of our language, Jane Birkin was a French icon.

“A complete artist, her voice was as sweet as her engagements were fiery. She bequeaths us tunes and images that will never leave us.”

France’s Minister of Culture, Rima Abdul Malak, also paid tribute, tweeting, “The most French of Britons is gone.

“Jane B was mischief, impertinent elegance, the never-outdated emblem of an entire era, a murmuring voice that remains our idol.

“A woman of heart, committed, whose disappearance leaves us alone In Babylone,” referencing one of Birkin’s songs.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Jane Birkin, born on December 14, 1946 in London, had a prolific career as a singer and an actress, mostly in French cinema.

She pursued a solo career releasing several albums, often singing in both French and English, and her notable acting credits including Agatha Christie‘s Death On The Nile and Evil Under The Sun.

A resident of France since the late 1960s, Birkin was known as l’Anglaise préférée des Français (France’s favourite English woman).

She crossed the channel in 1968 at the age of 22 to star in a film alongside veteran artiste Serge Gainsbourg, which was the start of a 13-year relationship that made then France most famous couple.

With her doe eyes, soft voice and androgynous silhouette, Birkin quickly became a sex symbol, recording a steamy duet with Gainsbourg in 1969 entitled, Je t’aime … moi non plus (I love you … me neither).

However, the song was banned on radio in the UK because of its sexually-explicit lyrics, and was condemned by the Vatican, but it still went on to achieve success worldwide.

In 2001, Birkin was awarded the Order of the British Empire(OBE), a British order of chivalry, rewarding contributions to the arts and sciences, work with charitable and welfare organisations, and public service outside the civil service.

She had also been awarded the French Ordre National du Mérite in 2004 and 2015 and won the Best Actress award at the 1985 Orleans Film Festival for Leave All Fair.

The late actress was the inspiration for the popular Hermes Birkin handbag, which has a lot celebrity admirers globally.

Some famous owners of the bag include former US first lady Melania Trump, rapper Cardi B, pop star-turned fashion designer Victoria Beckham and reality star Kim Kardashian.

In recent times, French media report that Birkin had health issues for a number of years that kept her from performing, including a mild stroke in 2021 which forced her to cancel shows, and a broken shoulder blade in March 2023.

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