Mar 18, 2012 12:00AM

Street Style Before Street Style: Jane Birkin

Nothing says 'style icon' like having an Hermes bag named in your honour.

Nothing says 'style icon' like having an Hermes bag named in your honour. Jane Birkin the long-legged, long-time lover to the late Serge Gainsbourg, has become just as famous for her fashion sense as for her acting and music. Relocating from London to Paris in the sixties, Jane's sense of style embodies a laid-back bohemia that just feels so French.

Her approach to dressing was never ostentatious or overdone and with a face like that, why would it be? Whether it was a metallic Glomesh dress or a pair of faded blue flares worn with a t-shirt and bare feet, Jane managed to make everything look perfectly appropriate. A huge fan of a turtle neck and a mini skirt, Jane also had a penchance for pea coats, denim shorts and was not a prude when it came to a little bit of nudity (hey, we're not complaining!). A single, delicate gold chain usually adorned her neck, while her hair would hang in those blunt bangs and a cigarette would be gracefully perched between her lips.

It was in the early eighties that she was seated next to Jean-Louis Dumas, chief executive of Hermes, on an international flight. The contents of her signature straw basket spilled from the overhead compartment, and she complained that she couldn't find a travel bag that she actually liked. What do you know, a few years later, Jean-Louis had designed one in her honour. The Birkin bag has remained to be one of the most coveted luxury handbags today, proving its everlasting effect, much like Jane's own sense of style.

It's hardly shocking that the spawn birthed from her loins are gifted and beautiful like their mother. Eldest daughter Kate Barry is a photographer, Charlotte Gainsbourg has become a respected singer and actress in her own right, and Lou Doillon has also made a foray into European cinema and modeling world.

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Melissa Kenny

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