Serge Gainsbourg — the eccentric French singer, songwriter, actor, poet, composer & director — never conforming to one genre or another, he was revolutionary and progressive, and is regarded as a legend of French music and cinema, as well as one of the world’s most influential musicians.
Jane Birkin, the English actress and chanteuse, was his partner and muse for over a dozen years, and even after it was over, he would continue writing songs for her until the day he died …
She was also a style icon, and inextricably tied to her namesake, the Hermès Birkin bag. As the story goes, in 1981, while on a flight from Paris to London, Jean-Louis Dumas, an Hermès chief executive, was seated next to Jane, who had just stowed away her [now iconic] straw bag in the overhead compartment; however, the contents spilled, falling to the floor and scattering everywhere, causing the actress to complain to Dumas that it had been difficult to find a weekend bag that she like. Three years later, in 1984, Dumas created a black leather bag for her, and the Birkin was born . . .
First meeting in the audition for the film, Slogan [trailer], Jane could barely speak a word of French, and Serge immediately dismissed her. It wasn’t until a particularly distressing line in the script, a line where Jane needed to cry, that Serge stopped and took notice — the tears pouring down Jane’s face were not an act — they were tears for her recent break up from English conductor and composer, John Barry [most known for the James Bond films], and tears from the pressure she felt from this potential co-star who was being so horrible — she channeled them into her work, and it landed her the role. Little did Jane know, this moment would shape her entire future.
During a dinner for the cast & crew of the film, Serge & Jane, by chance, were left alone at the dinner table. Jane pulled Serge onto the dance floor, despite his cries of protest, only to be surprised to find he had two left feet; luckily, she found it charming.
After the dancing, they escaped to a Russian nightclub where Serge convinced the musicians to play for Jane on the sidewalk. Many nightclubs later, the pair stumbled back to Serge’s room at the Hilton, where he promptly fell asleep while Jane used the bathroom. In her own words, “it was the most romantic of evenings.”