Jane Birkin, London-born actress, singer, and cultural icon, passed away on July 16th at age 76. She was undoubtedly one of the most influential women from the 60s up until today. From her work in several successful films to her nonchalant cool girl style, Birkin was an it-girl through and through.
If her name sounds familiar, it's probably because you've seen it associated with the world's most coveted bag: the Hermès Birkin. Its origin story is quite remarkable, almost unbelievable for its "meet-cute" nature. After dropping her infamous woven basket on a flight and spilling all of its remnants, Birkin was frustrated by her faulty bag.
Source: British Vogue
Luckily for her, Jean-Louis Dumas, the then-CEO of Hermès was sitting right next to her. Over the duration of their flight, the two designed Birkin's ideal leather bag that could store her everyday items while still being chic. Thus, the name of the bag is dubbed the Birkin.
This is amongst Birkin's smaller accolades, as her career and personal achievements are incredibly impressive. Her lead role in the French film, Slogan (1969), brought her well-deserved attention in the movie world. It was during filming for Slogan that she met her ex-husband, Serge Gainsbourg, who composed and starred in the film. The two would go on to create music together that put Birkin on the musical map.
As her career took off, Jane slowly became a figure in the public eye. With friends like George Harrison and Ringo Starr, it was nearly impossible not to be. With this new fame came magazine covers and event photos that showcased Birkin's unmatched style.
She had the unique ability to make ordinary clothing look fancily fashionable. Her hippie look could morph into a couture ensemble with just her confident aura. Whether it be in a plain white T-shirt or a perfectly tailored gown, Jane Birkin majorly influenced fashion culture. These are some of her most iconic looks:
Jane poses for a promo shot of her film, Wonderwall (1968), with her classic sweet smile taking over her face. From her subtle haircut to her light makeup, Birkin is the epitome of what it means to be effortlessly cool and this is further proven in her outfit.
Dawning a stunning sheer dress with flashes of shimmery velvet, Birkin stands intentionally barefoot on a ladder. The silhouette of the dress perfectly accentuates Jane's features and gives her movement that feels necessary for the photo shoot. It tells the story that she is glamorous, but still has marvelous adventures and a nonchalant attitude. The diamond pendant that lays perfectly by the dress adds to this element of elegance. But in conjunction with her relaxed energy, this look tells us various stories that encapsulate Jane and remind us that she is an enigma.
Source: Glam Squad
This iconic Birkin ensemble could not go unnoticed in her roundup of astonishing looks. Hand in hand with her then-husband, Serge Gainsbourg, the two attended the Artists Union Gala in Paris. The event hosted some of the most well-known people in various artistic fields. It is no shock then that the clothing worn that night was outstanding.
The delicately crocheted white dress Jane wore to the gala is amongst some of her most famous looks. It is so intricate in its craft, giving it a homemade feel rare for event clothing at the time. Paired with the fact that the dress was see-through, this look turned heads immediately.
In true Birkin style, Jane closed the dress with a lavish jeweled pendant that clasps mid-torso. This adds sophistication to her otherwise hippie-esque look. One would not even realize that Jane actually wore the dress the wrong way on purpose. She turned it so that the back became the front, making for an unconventional fit. This creativity screams Jane Birkin.
Source: British Vogue
Summing up Jane's style in just one look would be a moot point. However, this look is a pretty spot-on start. This photo captures Birkin for a photo shoot as she does nonother than shop for some magazines. Her cheeky smile and tousled hair give this photo the unique Birkin touch.
Jane wears a seemingly simple white t-shirt and some flared denim. The shirt folds at the sleeve, creating a casual detail to the look. Her high-waisted jeans fit just right, shifting from tight to loose below the knee. These pants are the quintessential 60s bottoms that represent the Hippie Movement Jane embodied.
To top off this look, Birkin wore her most imperative piece: a woven picnic bag. It was rare to find Jane without this bag– it was just so her. Its carefree nature and handcrafted quality made her picnic baskets so personal and identifiable to her.
Source: British Vogue
This photo is the definition of happy-go-lucky, a description often assigned to Birkin. Her energy always attracted people– as seen by the staring women in the photo. Holding two bunches of balloons, Birkin happily attended a charity fair in the classic A-line style she loved.
Jane's black mini-dress was a staple in her closet. She styled it in multiple ways, whether it was with sandals or pumps. At this event, Jane paired the dress with a square-toe kitten heel. Its cream color in contrast to the black dress makes the shoes stand out in the outfit. Her chunky coin necklace sits atop the dress and adds a glamorous feel to the look.
Source: Glam Squad
A night out on the town for Jane meant a good outfit was in store. Often out with Gainsbourg, the couple strutted the streets of Paris with killer looks. Gainsbourg's suit next to Birkin's dainty dress makes for a beautiful sight. With accessories galore, this showstopping dress is one we would see a modern star wearing today.
Much like many of her looks, Jane's entire outfit looks as though she threw it on and walked out the door. Her silk dress drapes perfectly and plays around with different lengths towards the bottom. Similar to her Wonderwall dress, this one has sparkly embellishments that enhance the look.
Her layered jewelry blends seamlessly into the dress, looking as though it was made for it. Jane paired the piece with a belt made of silver balls that match the sparkles sewn into the dress. The belt tightens the otherwise loose dress. The magic of this look comes from her classic basket bag– bringing that casual Jane-ness that makes her style so unique.
It is no doubt how impactful Jane Birkin was not only culturally, but in the fashion world. One can point to a modern outfit and find aspects of Jane in it. Her stamp in fashion goes beyond a one-time trend and extends to style inspiration that will stay relevant forever. Jane Birkin will always be remembered– likely with a woven basket in hand.