Jane Birkin: An icon's life in pictures

Actress Jane Birkin poses at the French seaside resort Deauville in 1985
Actress Jane Birkin poses at the French seaside resort Deauville in 1985 Copyright Mychele Daniau/AFP
By Saskia O'Donoghue
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Following the Franco-British actress, singer and style icon's death at the age of 76, Euronews Culture takes a look at her fascinating life - in pictures.


Jane Birkin, the style icon who died on Sunday at the age of 76, was frequently hailed as the epitome of French style - but she was actually born in London to British parents.

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An infant Birkin with her parents and brother at her christening, 1947George W. Hales/Getty Images
Birkin poses for a photoshoot in France, 1960Gamma-Keystone

Born Jane Mallory Birkin on 14 December 1946, Birkin's seven-decade long career began on the London stage, where she acted in plays including Graham Greene’s ‘Carving a Statue’ in 1964, in which she played the part of a deaf mute.

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Birkin in 1964, backstage at the play 'Carving a Statue'Barham/Mirrorpix/Getty Images

Birkin married composer John Barry in 1965 and had a daughter Kate before their divorce five years later.

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Birkin with actor David Hemmings on the set of 'Blow Up', 1966Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

During that marriage, Jane transitioned to a career in film, playing alongside David Hemmings in 1966’s Blow Up. She was immediately hailed as a style icon for her low-key fashion choices, wicker baskets and well thought-out silhouettes. 

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Birkin with Beatles George Harrison and Ringo Starr at Cannes Film Festival, 1968Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

In 1968, she starred in Slogan, where she met her long time partner and collaborator Serge Gainsbourg.

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Birkin and her long-time partner Serge Gainsbourg on the set of 'Slogan', 1968Corbis via Getty Images

Their most famous collaboration is the 1969 song ‘Je t'aime... moi non plus’, which was banned in several countries for its overtly sexual content.

Birkin gave birth to the couple's daughter, Charlotte Gainsbourg, now a celebrated actress and singer in her own right, in 1971. 

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Birkin with Gainsbourg and two of her daughters in Saint-Tropez, 1972Sygma via Getty Images

Birkin and Gainsbourg ended their relationship in the early 1980s, but continued to collaborate professionally for years following the split.

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Brigitte Bardot with Birkin on the set of Roger Vadim’s 'Don Juan ou Si Don Juan Était une Femme', 1973Corbis via Getty Images

In 1982, Birkin gave birth to her third daughter, Lou Doillon, the product of a long relationship with director Jacques Doillon.

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Birkin taking photographs at Cannes Film Festival, 1975Keystone/Getty Images

She was a prolific actress and singer, appearing in some 65 films and releasing more than 20 albums by the time of her death.

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Birkin performs in Germany with Gainsbourg, 1977United Archives via Getty Images

Birkin also used her platform to speak out as an activist and advocate, particularly drawing attention to the rights of women and animals.

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Birkin performs with Guy Marchand in Paris, 1982Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

In the 1980s, Hermès’ then chief executive Jean-Louis Dumas named a luxury bag after her after meeting Birkin on a plane. 

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Birkin poses with her British Bulldog Dora at her former home in Paris, 2001Derek Hudson/Getty Images
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Birkin with her eponymous Hermès bag in Tokyo, 2013Jun Sato/Getty

The bag has remained iconic and variations can cost hundreds of thousands. In 2015, though, Birkin requested that her name be removed from the bag due to the fashion house’s use of crocodile skin.

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Birkin with her daughters Charlotte Gainsbourg (L) and Lou Doillon (R) at Paris Fashion Week, 2016Bertrand Rindoff Petroff/Getty Images

Hermès assured Birkin that they had changed their practices and her name is still synonymous with the tote, marking her out as a conscientious style icon to the end.

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Chic until the end: Birkin at a photocall for the film 'Jane par Charlotte' at Cannes, 2021AFP via Getty Images

Jane Birkin (1946 - 2023)

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