Let’s recap. Jane Birkin, it goes without saying, is a legend. Aside from being an actress, singer, and model, she holds the near-mythical status of being the namesake of the ultimate Holy Grail Bag: the Birkin Bag. If Hermès chief executive Jean-Louis Dumas had not been sitting next to Jane Birkin on a plane in 1981 when all the contents of her straw bag fell to the floor, the Birkin might never have been created. Ah, the vagaries of chance.
At the age of 70, Birkin—as well as, of course, her namesake bag—is still as stylish as ever, and she remains one of the greatest fashion icons alive today. Read on to learn more about the woman behind our favorite bag and her ever-growing following!
As Who What Wear pointed out, Jane Birkin is anything but obsolete, and her classic yet free-spirited 1960s style is undeniably alive and well in today’s English and French fashion trends. Modern British style icon Alexa Chung, who openly admires Birkin, recently met her for an interview at the V&A museum in London and posted about the meeting for days after. And @janebirkindaily has an impressive 128k following. More recently, luxury leather goods brand Smythson of Bond Street interviewed Birkin, revealing the icon’s thoughts on her personal style today and European style more broadly.
Birkin has the 411 on English vs. French style. As she told Smythson, “The French are more sophisticated, but perhaps the English are more original. … Maybe the English are more eccentric. I came to Paris for the first time because I was sent to a finishing school. The French girls used to mock us in the Metro, they could see we were English because we were so badly dressed. They were all impeccable but they were all quite the same. It wasn’t yet the swinging Sixties, and we didn’t know how to turn ourselves out.”
Birkin continued, “In 1968 it was our turn! Fashion was no longer for the chic 35-year-old Parisians, it was for the English too. I was always just wearing a t-shirt on the King’s Road that cost five quid and loved my basket that came from Soho that was Portuguese and also cost a quid. That was what was so wonderful. In Paris, they thought you were very daring wearing such short skirts, but everybody did at home. It didn’t worry me at all what people thought of me.”
As for her style today? It’s changed a little bit. When it comes to travel, “after toiletries, I’m always wearing the same thing,” she said. “So I pack a couple of shirts, a couple of pairs of trousers and that’s it! I go to Agnès B – I always wear her silk tops, I have one that is 50 years old. She re-did one for me for the show. My daughter, Lou is a great person for fashion, she takes me to Isabel Marant and I go and pick up things from Hermès, because they let me – I like their men’s V-neck cashmere jerseys. I’ve always liked Dries Van Noten, and then there’s Saint Laurent, for the shirts and ties, and the eternal Le Smoking suit, which has gone on being wonderful for fifty years.”
It’s undeniable that Birkin’s style remains as effortless and chic as ever—an appropriate blend of her English and French background. It’s always exciting to learn about the inspiration behind our favorite bags, and Birkin simply takes the cake. Personally, I couldn’t think of a better fashionista to represent the Holy Grail Bag. What are your thoughts? Is Birkin a style icon you look up to? Does her personal style scream “Birkin Bag” to you? Let us know in the comments!
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