Remembering Jane Birkin: Terry O’Neill and Norman Parkinson
This week the world has mourned the passing of Jane Birkin. As an actress, singer and fashion icon, Birkin captivated audiences with her talent, style and effortless charm. We have taken a look back through the archives and wanted to share a few captivating portraits by photographers Terry O’Neill and Norman Parkinson.
Emerging from the Swinging London scene of the 1960s, Birkin was propelled into the limelight for her role in the controversial film Blow-Up (1966), which was followed closely by a part in the comedy crime film, Kaleidoscope (1966). After these early successes, Birkin was asked to sit for Norman Parkinson at Osterley Park, a Georgian country estate in west London, wearing a white chiffon dinner dress and bow-tied hair. The image was featured in the August 1966 edition of American Vogue.
She succeeded these early films with a string of memorable performances, mostly in French cinema, such as Slogan (1968), Wonderwall (1968), La Piscine (1969), Agatha Christie adaptations Death on the Nile (1978), Evil Under the Sun (1982) and A Soldier’s Daughter Never Cries (1998).
However, it was her collaboration with French singer Serge Gainsbourg that would cement her legendary status. The couple met on the set of Slogan as co-stars, which marked the beginning of a decade-long relationship. Their iconic duet “Je t’aime… moi non plus” became a symbol of sexual liberation and artistic expression. As ‘the’ avant-garde couple of the 70s, Terry O’Neill photographed the pair for the Sunday Times around the release of their hit single.
Beyond her artistic achievements, Birkin’s humanitarian interests led her to work with Amnesty International on immigrant welfare and the HIV/AIDS epidemic. She became an outspoken advocate for these causes, visiting countries such as Bosnia, Rwanda, Israel and Palestine. She will forever be remembered as an emblematic icon of her time, inspiring generations to come.