Jane Birkin, actress and singer who inspired Hermès Birkin bag, dead at 76

Jane Birkin, an English singer, actor, style icon and Francophile, has died at the age of 76, according to a report from Le Parisien.

The outlet reports Birkin died Sunday at her home in Paris. Her cause of death has yet to be revealed.

The sad news of her passing comes two months after Birkin canceled a handful of concerts citing health concerns – two years after she suffered a stroke.

In the wake of her death, French president Emmanuel Macron tweeted, “Because she embodied freedom, because she sang the most beautiful words of our language, Jane Birkin was a French icon.”

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

Birkin is survived by two daughters: Charlotte, 51, and Lou, 40.

Jane BirkinJane Birkin has died at age 76.Jean-Louis Atlan

Birkin’s name is known to many as she inspired the now-famous Hermès bag of the same moniker. She revealed the iconic purse came to be after a chance encounter on a plane in the ’80s.

“I was on an airplane when a plastic bag holding all my things broke and everything fell out—my date book, papers, everything,” she told T: The New York Times Style Magazine in 2010, per Vogue.

“Just as I was saying how I wish Hermès would make a bag that could fit all my things, the man sitting next to me happened to work for Hermès – it was Jean-Louis Dumas, the head designer.”

Jane Birkin She was a singer, actor and style icon, particularly of the 1960s.Abaca Press/INSTARimages

She went on, “They already had the Kelly bag, named after Grace Kelly, so he began work on the Birkin bag. I went down to the atelier and he had made it in cardboard. And we talked about it and I said they should make some changes, like making pockets bigger. And that’s how it was made.”

Birkin traveled to France in 1968 after splitting from her first husband, “James Bond” composer John Barry.

The couple shared a daughter Kate, who died in 2013 at the age of 46. However, Barry left her shortly after Kate was born.

Jane BirkinBirkin is survived by two daughters. Her eldest daughter died in 2013.APS-Medias/Abaca/Sipa USA

She went on to appear in the 1969 film “Slogan” alongside her future partner, Serge Gainsbourg.

“It was very reassuring, after a disastrous marriage where they left you with your not-even-one-year-old child; at 19, I thought life had ended really,” Birkin told Vogue in 2018.

“So when I went to France and met Serge, he made me feel wonderful, absolutely wonderful. He gave me confidence in myself and managed to efface all the pain from what had happened before, and I think I probably did the same for him because he had just gotten over a love affair with [Brigitte] Bardot.”

Jane BirkinHer 1969 song “Je t’aime… moi non plus” was one of her biggest hits. APS-Medias/Abaca/Sipa USA

They welcomed their daughter, Charlotte, in 1971 and stayed together until she left Gainsbourg in 1980.

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“I escaped to get out of being just a sort of beautiful creature that he wanted me to be,” she told The Telegraph in 2009 of their tumultuous relationship.

“I didn’t want to be told what to do anymore or not allowed to touch anything in his sitting room.”

Jane BirkinHer singing career spanned six decades. APS-Medias/Abaca/Sipa USA

She also gave birth to a third daughter, Lou, with French film director Jacques Doillon in 1982.

Among her biggest hits was the scandalous track, “Je t’aime… moi non plus,” which she performed as a duet with Gainsbourg.

“We never thought for a moment that the song would become such a symbol of freedom—all over the world,” Birkin told Vogue France in 2018 of the hit, which features her erotic breathing sounds.

Jane Birkin“I have come close to [death] twice and, surprisingly, I didn’t panic,” she said in 2018.APS-Medias/Abaca/Sipa USA

In the same interview, Birkin pondered the concept of death.

“We are all a little scared of death when we feel it approaching,” she said at the time.

“The idea is so distant, so abstract. We have trouble imagining it. Over the last three years, I have come close to it twice and, surprisingly, I didn’t panic. I was more frightened of not having time to say what I wanted to say, to leave things in order, to be forgiven.”

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