Happy Birthday, Jane Birkin!

The original ’60s wild child Jane Birkin could quite possibly be London’s most famous export. Since the moment Birkin burst onto the scene, it was clear that this was someone who didn’t live by any kind of rulebook.

At the age of 17, she shocked the world when she met and married James Barry, composer of the James Bond theme song. Barry fathered Birkin’s first child, a daughter, Kate. Barry was 13 years her senior and twice divorced. Birkin also caused quite a stir with her appearance in the 1966 film Blow Up. She was the first actress to display her pubic hair in mainstream cinema. And then of course, there is the song she composed with French icon Serge Gainsbourg in 1969, T’Aime Moi Non Plus. In addition to their creative relationship, the pair were also romantically involved for several years. The song contained a series of sexually explicit sounds from Birkin, so much so that it was banned by the Vatican and the BBC. Naturally it topped the U.K. charts. Proving her unrelenting relevance, the song was used in France as a soundtrack to TV footage of President Sarkozy and Carla Bruni when news of their love affair first broke in 2008.

As a singer, songwriter, actress and, of course, darling of the French avant garde, Birkin has truly made her mark on the world.

In her long career, Jane Birkin has appeared in countless films, released dozens of recordings and done some pretty significant humanitarian work. And of course she’s done all of this while looking effortlessly fabulous with her unkempt brown hair and laid-back style. An ode to beauty in it’s most raw form.

This is perhaps why one of the most coveted luxury handbags bears her name: the Hermes Birkin bag.

Although many women would do nothing short of giving up their first born to have such a fashion honour bestowed upon them, Birkin was recently quoted as saying: “I sold one of my Birkin bags for $163,000 to help the Japanese Red Cross. So that rather trivial piece of heavy luggage has done a lot of good in the world.” I mean is there anyone cooler and more blasé than Jane Birkin?

These days, Birkin continues to put on concerts worldwide and is heavily focused on her charitable endeavours. She went on to have two more daughters, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Lou Doillon from her relationship with the director Jacques Doillon, both of whom have become style icons in their own right. Like their mother before them, they continue to influence fashion-lovers everywhere with their ultra-chic and always boundary-pushing Parisian style.

-Brooke Benjamin