Singer and actress Jane Birkin has died

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Singer and actress Jane Birkin has died at the age of 76, according to French media.

The English-French star, who inspired the Hermès Birkin designer handbag, was found at her home by her caregiver, BFMTV reported.

She was described as “the most Parisian of the English” by Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris.

“We will never forget her songs, her laughter or her incomparable accent that have always accompanied us,” she wrote in a tweet.

While the French Culture Ministry said the country had lost a “timeless French-speaking icon”.

The singer had been forced to postpone several concerts in Paris scheduled back in May after breaking her shoulder in March 2022, BFMTV reported.

Singer and actress Jane Birkin has died
Birkin in 1970. Pic: AP

“I’ve always been a big optimist, and I realise that it still takes me a little while to be able to be on stage again and with you. I love being with you so much,” she said in a statement at the time.

It followed another string of cancelled shows after the star suffered from a stroke in September 2021, BFMTV said.

Singer and actress Jane Birkin has died

Born in London, but having lived in France since the 1960s, Birkin began her career as an actress. She starred in 1966 film Blow Up, in which she controversially appeared naked in a threesome sex scene.

She married British James Bond composer John Barry in 1965. They divorced in 1968. The couple shared a daughter, Kate Barry, who died in 2013 after falling from her fourth-floor flat in Paris.

It was not until her on and off-screen relationship with Serge Gainsbourg, that Birkin gained international fame.

Singer and actress Jane Birkin has died
Gainsbourg and Birkin in 1974. Pic: AP

The pair met while co-starring in 1969 French satirical romantic comedy, Slogan, and went on to release a debut album in the same year.

Singer and actress Jane Birkin has died
Birkin performing in 2018. Pic:AP

The album featured the sexually explicit song “Je t’aime… moi non plus” which reached number one in the UK Singles Char, despite being banned from a number of radio stations.

The couple went on to have a daughter, Charlotte Gainsbourg, who works is an actress.

Singer and actress Jane Birkin has died
Birkin and her daughter Charlotte Gainsbourg. Pic: AP

After their split in 1980 Birkin continued to work, appearing in multiple films and recording numerous solo albums in both French and English, which Gainsbourg regularly wrote for.

Singer and actress Jane Birkin has died
Pic: AP

Her acting credits included 1966 crime comedy Kaleidoscope, a 1978 adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile and mystery film Evil Under the Sun in 1982.

In 2016, she starred in the Oscar-nominated short film La femme et le TGV, which she said would be her final film role.

Inspiration for the Birkin bag

In 1981, Birkin was reportedly sat next to Hermès chief executive Jean-Louis Dumas on a flight from Paris to London, according to L’Officiel magazine.

Singer and actress Jane Birkin has died
Hermès Birkin handbag. Pic: AP

Following a conversation between the two about how difficult it was to find a bag that could fulfil Birkin’s needs as a mother-of-two, the Birkin bag was born.

Mr Dumas designed the bag on the spot and named it after Birkin when it came into production in 1984, according to reports.

Singer and actress Jane Birkin has died
Birkin with the bag she inspired

The handbag has gone on to become a status symbol, with some fetching well over $10,000 (£7,638).

The luxury accessory even became the centre of a 2001 episode of Sex and the City, when Samantha – played by Kim Cattrall – is told that a $4,000 (£3,055) Birkin has a five-year waitlist.

Some of the most famous faces to own a Birkin include former US first lady Melania Trump, rapper Cardi B, pop star-turned fashion designer Victoria Beckham and reality-TV royalty Kim Kardashian.

Birkin also made headlines for her philanthropy and humanitarian work, where she worked closely with Amnesty International and Unicef.

In 2022, she took part in a protest video in which she and her daughter cut off locks of their own hair in support of anti-government protesters in Iran.

Birkin is survived by daughters Ms Gainsbourg and Lou Doillon.

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