A Conversation with Muse, Actress and Singer Jane Birkin at FIAF New York

Photo: fiaf

Last week Monday, the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF) in New York City hosted a “Conversation with Jane Birkin”. The discussion was moderated by Elia Einhorn of the Pitchfork Radio & Talkhouse Podcast.

Jane Birkin is known for different reasons to different people. For some, she is a fashion muse – her effortless style that was seen throughout the 60’s and 70’s and forever captured in many iconic photographs. And yes, also for the “Birkin” – Hermès‘ Birkin bag.

For others, Birkin is known for being a muse of the French singer-song-writer Serge Gainsbourg. She was in New York City as she was set to sing at Carnegie Hall for the “Birkin/Gainsbourg: The Symphonic with Jane Birkin and Wordless Music Orchestra”, which also featured Rufus Wainwright.

Birkin was also an actress and a mother to three, including Charlotte Gainsbourg.

Photo: malendyer

As you can imagine, the discussion covered a lot of ground. From the FIAF conversation, here are some standout quotes:

Advice from her mom on what she brought when fleeing for the war…
[Elsa] Schiaparelli perfume. When you have nothing left, take the superfood.”

On her youth…
“I got mocked in [English] boarding school. I know what it’s like to be teased.”

““I always thought handbags were too small. I liked the [Hermès] Kelly handbag, but three times bigger.”

On her relationship with Hermès…
“I always thought handbags were too small. I liked the [Hermès] Kelly handbag, but three times bigger – not as big as a suitcase. I drew it…” and the rest is history, as we say.

“Our relationship is good. I took my name off when there were issues with the crocodiles. I believe them [that they fixed the issue]. Hermès makes their living from skin. They needed to sort it out. It was in their interest and mine to see it stopped.”

On acting, including in two Agatha Christie films…
“They were great fun. It was an ok performance – it was more about the people around me.”

On being Gainsbourg’s muse…
“I didn’t know anything else.”

On his music…
“You don’t have to know the words. You get the point.”

Photo: malendyer

Jane Birkin. A muse. An actress. A singer. If you haven’t already, we highly recommend you download her new album, “Birkin/Gainsbourg: Le Symphonique”.

Connect with Jane Birkin:
janebirkin.net

Connect with the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF):
fiaf.org