Jane Birkin: The woman with a bag named after her dies at 76

Getting into the fashion industry can be easy. Maintaining a name into the business too. But leaving this world behing being an icon of the history of fashion for ever is only for a few. Jane Birkin (1946, London – 2023, Paris) was one of the lucky ones to leave this earthly life with that distinction in her biography.

The retrospective of Jane (Franco-British artist) who left just a year after presenting her latest musical work, contains as many lights as shadows. Her figure has always been linked in equal parts to that of a lucky figure because of her fame as convicted for the same reason. She herself gave a glimpse of it in Diaries, 1957-1982, where you can discover a Jane immersed in an erratic and capricious inner universe, with a life moved solely by the sway of success.

In her record, we not only find that she is the muse of one fashion brand or another – most likely thanks to a mind that is too liberal to follow cultural and style clichés – but also an endless number of films and records just as valuable as her way of understanding Fashion. Her work goes far beyond any artistic discipline to which she dedicated herself. She was the artistic and sentimental partner of Serge Gainsbourg, also a singer and actor, the target of the international press in the 1960s, the fledgling muse of French cinema in its most mischievous years and the indisputable fashion style of yesterday and today. Proof of the latter is the Hermès brand icon: a comfortable yet elegant bag named after her.

But the question is: why did Hermès named what is now the most expensive bag in the world after Jane Birkin?

The reason includes three ingredients: a mother’s despair at not being able to stop her children’s fluttering, an airplane and a creative director. This is how the most expensive bag in the world began to take shape, several thousand meters high. Jane Birkin and Jean-Louis Dumas witnessed and participated in this first draft during a flight. She was trying to reassure her children by going in and taking things out of a bag that could keep them entertained and he was watching the scene carefully. The conclusion that Jane reached and that she told the then Hermès creative director – and at that time her flight companion – was that having a small bag is not compatible with having two young children.

The meeting took place in 1984 and continued in the Maison’s French workshops, where the most desired bag to date was finished: practical, roomy, comfortable and elegant. Inconceivable sister concepts at the time. Dumas and Hermès laid the foundations for what the fashion industry would immediately read: style should not be incompatible with functionality. The creation, which was put into circulation as soon as it was conceived, received the name of Birkin, in honor of that off-road mother so many meters high.

It was a shaken cocktail between desire and need that made this fashion accessory an icon not only of the brand, but of the industry. Its exclusivity is still subject to economic reasons of artisan roots. It is a customizable bag, made on request and completely handmade. Three requirements that make the Birkin bag a difficult collector’s item to see.

Jane leaves as an icon with the honor of having named a tall bag after her. Sorry, It’s not a bag, it’s a Birkin.

Credit photo getty images

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