For more than a decade, the relationship between Jane Birkin and her 60s-style icon with Serge Gainsbourg – a young English actress and rebellious French singer almost 20 years older than her – has been the subject of great public appeal. .
As Birkin continues his tour “Le Symphonique”, in which he performs orchestral versions of his ex-partner’s greatest hits, he still expresses fond memories of their first date.
“It made me very happy, seeing that (someone) leaving a boarding school in England with all the mocking of the fact that I had no breasts, saying that I was a” half caste “- half girl, half boy”, he recalled, referring to the her light physique in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. “What a pleasure to come to Paris, and for Serge Gainsbourg to say that he has always been afraid of the breast.”
Following what she described as a “truly miserable marriage” to composer John Barry, Birkin remembers being “happy that people thought I was cute and … an object of desire”.
Jane Birkin: Gainsbourg ‘was ahead of its time’
But the relationship between Gainsbourg, who died in 1991, and the London starlet – a successful actress, musician and model in its own right – was more than profound.
Their collaboration was also of creative and musical collaborators. Birkin, now 73, told the story of Gainsbourg’s most famous song “Je T’aime … Moi Non Plus” (“I Love You … Me Neither”). Originally recorded with his former lover, Brigitte Bardot, the song became a hit in the English-speaking world after recording it again with Birkin.
“He was a gentleman, but he just couldn’t resist showing me what he had in his drawer and making me listen to” Je T’aime Moi … Non Plus “, with Bardot, who was incredibly sexy. And so he said:” Do you want to sing it? “And since I was madly in love with him, I said,” Well, sure. “
Gainsbourg and Birkin were pictured during an inauguration at a Paris jeweler. Credit: Images by Stringer / AFP / Getty
“Nobody has ever done better than he did,” he added, reflecting on the cultural impact of Gainsburg. “And probably because he was ahead of his time.”
Of course, for those too young to remember the 13-year-old couple’s romance, or classic films like “Death on the Nile” and “Kaleidoscope”, Birkin’s name will still be familiar, perhaps thanks to the Hermès bag that carries the his name.
The actress told of the now famous accident in which she found herself sitting next to Hermès president, Jean-Louis Dumas, on a flight to London. As the items came out of her large Kelly bag – a previous design of the French luxury house, popularized by Grace Kelly – Birkin suggested a new design.
“I said, ‘Why don’t you make a bag that’s kind of four times the size of the Kelly you could leave open?” he remembered asking Dumas.
“He said, ‘Well, draw it for me.’ And so I drew it on one of those sick bags – the vomit bag on the plane. And it was true to his word, “he said.
Related video: Jane Birkin’s CNN 2017 profile.
Birkin bags are now coveted luxury items that sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars, although the woman behind the idea never received royalties for design. And while her association with the bag means “nothing much” for the actress and singer, she seems not to be convinced that her name has achieved a reputation of its own.
“It was fun to come to New York and they said,” Oh, Birkin – like the bag? “I said,” Yes. Now the bag will sing. “
In a wide-ranging interview aired on CNN International on Friday, Birkin also reflected on the #MeToo movement. He suggested that France, where he has lived for much of the past fifty years, is “usually about 10 years behind England and perhaps 15 years behind America” in an attempt to denounce sexual misconduct.
Birkin on the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival in 2015. Credit: Loic Venance / AFP / Getty Images
But he pointed to his 17-year-old grandson as an example of how attitudes towards women’s rights and sexual consent are changing.
“The way he was brought up to ask girls what they think, to have their opinion, to do things only if the girl wants – that a whole way of thinking, is not very macho enough, (is) the way the kids have been educated by now, “he said. “I think that’s what will change things … the attitude of young people and the fact that women can feel protected in the workplace.
“Things will never be the same again, and this is a revolution.”