By Jessica Bailey

Jane Birkin Has Passed Away In Paris, Aged 76

The life and times of a London-born girl who won over the French, and then the world
Jane Birkin, Actress and Model, models for The Sun Women’s Page, poses for pictures in a Park, London, Sunday 20th December 1964. (Photo by Barham/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)

Beloved Anglo-Franco actress, singer and model Jane Birkin died at her home in Paris on July 15. She was 76 years old.

The news comes just two months after Birkin cancelled a string of concerts, citing health concerns—and two years since the star suffered a stroke.

Despite being born in London in 1946, the French considered Birkin one of their own. Raised by an actor mother and naval officer father, Birkin married music composer John Barry at just 17 years old, a union that would last three years. The couple welcomed daughter Kate in 1967.

18-year-old Jane Birkin, currently starring in the lead role of ‘Passion Flower Hotel’ marries in secret at Chelsea Registry Office London to John Barry, aged 30, 16th October 1965. (Photo by King/Sunday Mirror/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)

In 1966, Birkin burned a hole in the cinema screen in Michelangelo Antonioni’s classic film Blow Up, a role as a beautiful ingenue that saw the actress catapult to fame. A year later, Birkin moved across the channel to star in a romantic comedy titled Slogan alongside French singer-songwriter Serge Gainbourgh. Little did she realise at the time, Gainbourgh (who was 18 years her senior) would be the love of her life.

Jane Birkin, Serge Gainsbourg (Photo by: Universal Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg leaving for Paris where they are to record a new song called Melody Nelson. (Photo by Victor Crawshaw/Mirrorpix via Getty Images)

For 13 years, the pair enjoyed a hedonistic lifestyle as France’s most famous couple. In February 1969, they released a song titled “Je t’aime…Moi Non” (“I Love You…Me Neither”), its sexual lyrics condemned by the Vatican and banned in several countries.

“He and I became the most famous of couples in that strange way because of Je t’aime and … he went on being my friend until the day he died. Who could ask for more?” Birkin told CNN in 2006. “So Paris became my home. I’ve been adopted here. They like my accent.”

In 1971, the coupled welcomed a daughter, Charlotte.

British singer and actress Jane Birkin, and her daughter Charlotte at home in Paris. (Photo by Alain Dejean/Sygma via Getty Images)

Birkin starred in over 70 films; Death On The Nile, Evil Under The SunCannabis, WonderwallThe Pirate, the list goes on. My favourite was 1969’s La Piscine where Birkin played fatale teenager Penelope who seduces a writer by a swimming pool along the Côte d’Azur. This role was later replayed by Dakota Johnson in Luca Guadagnino’s A Bigger Splash remake/rework.

Kino. DER SWIMMINGPOOL / La Piscine FRA/ITA, 1968 / Jaques Deray Szene mit ALAIN DELON (Jean Paul) und JANE BIRKIN (Penelope) Regie: Jaques Deray aka. La Piscine / DER SWIMMINGPOOL FRA/ITA, 1968. (Photo by FilmPublicityArchive/United Archives via Getty Images)

Birkin and Gainbourgh’s relationship was up and down—reportedly, Birkin once launched herself into the River Seine after throwing a custard pie in Gainsbourg’s face!—and they ended their romantic relationship in 1980.

Birkin had another daughter, Lou, with French film director Jacques Doillon. Her eldest Kate, a fashion photographer, sadly died in 2013 after falling from a balcony in Paris. Charlotte Gainsbourg is a musician and actress, and Lou Doillon is a model and musician.

PARIS, FRANCE – FEBRUARY 24: (L-R) Charlotte Gainsbourg, Jane Birkin arrive at 48th Cesar Film Awards at L’Olympia on February 24, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by Stephane Cardinale – Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)

“Jane Birkin was a French icon. A complete artist, her voice was as gentle as her commitments were ardent,” tweeted French president Emmanuel Macron. “She bequeaths us a legacy of songs and images that will never leave us.”

“She embodied freedom, because she sang the most beautiful words of our language, Jane Birkin was a French icon,” he continued.

FRANCE – CIRCA 1960: Portrait of Jane Birkin, taken in the Sixties. (Photo by REPORTERS ASSOCIES/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Beyond cinema, Birkin will forever hold a legacy at the House of Hermès. Its famous handbag, The Birkin, launched in 1984 after Birkin reportedly met Hermés chief executive Jean-Louis Dumas on a flight from Paris to London where she discussed the need for an elegant bag to house all of her needs as a mother.

This article originally appeared on Grazia International.