Jane Birkin, Singer, Actress, and Inspiration Behind Popular Hermès Bag, Dead at 76

The British multi-hyphenate inspired the creation of the luxury bag after sitting next to Hermés chief executive Jean-Louis Dumas on a flight in 1984.

(Photo by Pierre Suu / Getty Images)

Jane Birkin, the British-born actress and singer and the inspiration behind the Hermés Birkin bag, has died in Paris at the age of 76, according to the French Ministry of Culture. 

The legendary multi-hyphenate was found dead in her home on Sunday, with the news arriving after the French Ministry of Culture posted a tweet that called her a "timeless French-speaking icon." A cause of death has yet to be announced, and representatives for the late actress haven't responded to the press regarding her passing. 

Twitter: @MinistereCC

According to ABC News, Birkin had been struggling with health issues for several years. She suffered a stroke in 2021 and fractured her shoulder blade this year, which kept her from making public appearances. 

Birkin was born in London but found fame and a home in France after moving there to film the 1968 movie, Slogan. On the film set, Birkin met and dated her co-star Serge Gainsbourg which elevated her status and popularity in the country. The two collaborated on her most popular song, the sexually explicit "Je T'Aime... Moi Non Plus." 

Outside of her acting and singing career, Birkin was also a fashion icon in France in the 1960s and 70s, with many considering her an innovator for consistently breaking the status quo with her style and tone. In 1984, Birkin inspired the Hermés' Birkin bag, one of the most sought-after luxury bags in the world. 

The inspiration came after Birkin sat beside Hermés chief executive Jean-Louis Dumas on a flight from Paris to London. According to the official Hermés website, Birkin had placed her straw traveling bag in the overhead compartment, which ended up tipping over and emptying the bag. She complained to Dumas that she couldn't find a leather bag that was suitable for her lifestyle as a young mother, and the rest was history.

Birkin is survived by two daughters, Charlotte, born in 1971, and Lou Doillon, born in 1982. She also had a daughter, Kate, who was born in 1967 and died in 2013. 

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