Jane Birkin


By: Haley Albert

Before Jane Birkin was a celebrated Instaram hashtag, she was the queen of the Jean. Nobody, not now and probably not ever, has been able to effervescently float through life with one seemingly tailor-made jean after another. While most people know her as the namesake for the Hermes Birkin Bag, or for her love affair with Serge Gainsborough, her greatest gift to the world was giving us a pictorial history of how to wear the perfect pair of jeans.

Paris in the sixties was Jane’s stomping ground. Originally born in Marylebone, London, the French adopted her as their British best friend, but soon accepted her as the Parisian she was destined to be. She landed a role in the 1969 film Slogan where she met Serge Gainsbourg, the man that would become her husband, and formed the coolest marriage in the public eye. The two quickly became a magnet for paparazzi, leading Birkin to become a household name.

What made Jane so special was that she felt attainable — at least her clothing did. Photographs of her dangling off boats and walking the cobblestone streets in white blouses and wide-leg denim were inescapable. Her jeans were neither designer nor elaborately embroidered with brand names. They were simply well loved, worn in jeans that arrived at a comfortable fade at their own pace. She always paired her seemingly flawless denim choices with simple white t-shirts and button downs, leaving her bra at home. She was the pinnacle of a free-spirited Parisian that could fit as comfortably in our current fashion landscape in 2015 as she did in hers. And although she was born in England, her refreshingly minimal style left a lasting imprint on French fashion.

While we miss the day’s where we would see Birkin running around Paris with her jeans, flats, and baguette in hand, we have the next best thing filling her shoes: her equally stylish denim devotee daughters Charlotte Gainsbourg and Lou Dillon. It could be the effortlessness of their uncouth choppy bangs, or the fact that their lives have been played out like a fashion film, but Charlotte and Lou are the unparalleled queens of Cool. From denim jumpsuits, to super cool jean jackets, there is no one better to continue the Birkin legacy than her offspring.

Jane Birkin did far more than teach us how to wear jeans. She created a whole universe around them. Vintage jeans are more than an arbitrary clothing item plucked from our drawers and hoisted over our bums at random; they are nostalgic portals into older times. Vintage Levi’s make Americans say things like Merci, and Bisou. Putting them on is like putting a spell on your self, a spell that compels you to buy baguettes and read Simone De Beauvoir, all in the hope of feeling a little bit closer to our beloved Jane.