Jane Birkin, singer and actress who inspired Hermes Birkin handbag, dead at 76

6th April 1971: British singer, actress and model Jane Birkin, best known for Je tAime, her duet with partner Serge Gainsbourg. (Photo by Steve Wood/Evening Standard/Getty Images)

Actress and singer Jane Birkin, who charmed France with her English grace, style and accented French and made the country her home, has died at age 76, according to France's Culture Ministry and French media.

The London-born star was widely admired for her fashion style and known for her musical and romantic relationship with French singer Serge Gainsbourg. Their songs notably included the steamy "Je t’aime moi non plus," with Birkin's ethereal, British-accented singing voice interlacing with his gruff baritone.

Birkin inspired the iconic Hermes Birkin handbag, released in 1984, according to the BBC. 

She was also celebrated in France for her political activism. In 2022, she joined other screen and music stars in France in chopping off locks of their hair in support of protesters in Iran. Charlotte Gainsbourg, Birkin's daughter with Gainsbourg, cut off a lock of her mother's hair for that filmed campaign.


Jane Birkin and Étienne Daho attend the Celine Men Fall-Winter 2023-2024 show on February 10, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

The French Culture Ministry tweeted that Birkin died Sunday. It hailed her as a "timeless Francophone icon."

French news outlets Liberation and BFM TV reported that Birkin was found dead at her home in Paris. French newspaper Le Figaro reported that Birkin had suffered from health issues in the past few years that kept her from performing and her public appearances became sparse.

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BFM TV said Birkin suffered a mild stroke in 2021, forcing her to cancel shows that year. She canceled her shows again in March due to a broken shoulder blade.

A return to performing in May was put off, the French broadcaster said, quoting the singer as saying she needed a bit more time and promising her fans she would see them again come the fall.