There are few people for whom the word “icon” seems such a natural fit as for Jane Birkin — international actress, singer, former partner and collaborator of the late Serge Gainsbourg, namesake of the Hermès “Birkin bag” — but Birkin herself doesn’t agree.
“People exaggerate when they say ‘fashion icon.’ Even the word ‘icon.’ I don’t merit that in reality,” she tells us on this episode of Soul Sisters. “I think I’ve done about ten good films where I was all right, and some more than all right. But for the ones that most people know, like Blow-Up or Agatha Christie films, I was nothing in them,” she insists.
What she is mightily proud of, and in fact calls “the best thing I’ve ever done,” is her latest album, Birkin/Gainsbourg: Le Symphonique, on which she interprets some of the great songs written by the revered French artist. (Birkin and Gainsbourg are parents to Charlotte Gainsbourg, a previous Soul Sister and someone her mother differentiates herself from as “an actress right from the word go,” with “her own statement to make.”)
Noting that she is currently performing in cities and venues Gainsbourg himself was never able to play in (“he was very short-lived as a live artist”), Birkin is proud to extend his legacy in this way.
And as for her own legacy? “I was a sort of jolly actress that suddenly did a bit better than people imagined in dramatic things,” she says with utterly convincing humility. “It’s not self-depreciating. It’s, I think, very lucid. And I mean, if you’re known for a bag, then what can I say.”
Listen to the full episode below, hosted by Jessie Katz and Darah Golub, and be sure to subscribe to the Soul Sisters iTunes channel for all future episodes!