Actor, singer and style icon Jane Birkin dies in Paris at age 76

British actress and singer Jane Birkin poses in Deauville on September 12, 1985. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 17 July 2023

Actor, singer and style icon Jane Birkin dies in Paris at age 76

  • Star was known for her musical and romantic relationship with French singer Serge Gainsbourg.

PARIS: Actor and singer Jane Birkin, who made France her home and charmed the country with her English grace, natural style and social activism, has died at age 76.
The London-born star and fashion icon was known for her musical and romantic relationship with French singer Serge Gainsbourg. Their songs notably included the steamy “Je t’aime moi non plus" ("I Love You, Me Neither"). Birkin's ethereal, British-accented singing voice interlaced with his gruff baritone in the 1969 duet that helped make her famous and was forbidden in Italy after being denounced in the Vatican newspaper.
The style Birkin displayed in the 1960s and early 1970s — long hair with bangs, jeans paired with white tops, knit mini dresses and basket bags — still epitomizes the height of French chic for many women around the world.
Birkin was also synonymous with a Hermes bag that bore her name. Created by the Paris fashion house in 1984 in her honor, the Birkin bag became one of the world’s most exclusive luxury items, with a stratospheric price tag and years-long waiting list to buy it.

In her adopted France, Birkin was also celebrated for her political activism and campaigning for Amnesty International, Myanmar’s pro-democracy movement, the fight against AIDS and other causes.
“You can always do something,” Birkin said in 2001, drumming up support for an Amnesty campaign against torture. “You can say, ‘I am not OK with that.’”
She joined five monks on a march through the Cannes Film Festival in 2008 to demand that Myanmar let foreign aid workers into the country to help cyclone victims.
In 2022, she joined other screen and music stars in France in chopping off locks of their hair in support of protesters in Iran. Charlotte Gainsbourg, Birkin's daughter with Gainsbourg and also an actor in her own right, cut off a snippet of her mother's hair for the “HairForFreedom” campaign as Iran was engulfed by anti-government protests.
French President Emmanuel Macron hailed Birkin as a “complete artist,” noting that her soft voice went hand-in-hand with her “ardent” activism.

“Jane Birkin was a French icon because she was the incarnation of freedom, sang the most beautiful words of our language," he tweeted.
French media reported that Birkin was found dead at her Paris home. The French Culture Ministry tweeted that Birkin died Sunday. It hailed her as a “timeless Francophone icon.”
Culture Minister Rima Abdul Malak called Birkin “the most French British person" and “the emblem for a whole epoch who never went out of fashion."
Birkin's early movie credits included “Blow-Up” in 1966, credited with helping introduce French audiences to her "Swinging Sixties" style and beauty.
Birkin and Gainsbourg met two years later. She remained his muse even after the couple separated in 1980.

She also had a daughter, Kate, with James Bond composer John Barry. Kate Barry died in 2013 at age 46. Birkin had her third daughter, singer and model Lou Doillon, with French director Jacques Doillon.
Birkin suffered from health issues in recent years that kept her from performing and her public appearances became sparse.
French broadcaster BFMTV said Birkin suffered a mild stroke in 2021, forcing her to cancel shows that year. She canceled her shows again in March due to a broken shoulder blade.
A return to performing was put off in May, with the singer saying she needed a bit more time and promising her fans she would see them again come the fall.

Daisy Ridley takes a chic turn in Elie Saab

Updated 13 July 2024

Daisy Ridley takes a chic turn in Elie Saab

DUBAI: British actress Daisy Ridley stunned in an elegant Elie Saab look while presenting at the 2024 ESPY Awards in Los Angeles on Thursday.

The ESPY Awards, the Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly, is an event honoring the top athletes and sport performances of the year.


A post shared by Daisy Ridley (@daisyridley)

The 32-year-old “Star Wars” actress skipped the red carpet at the ceremony, held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.

She did take the stage, though, to present an award with Buffalo Bills player, Damar Hamlin, during the telecast.

Ridley wore a sleeveless cobalt-blue gown from Lebanese designer Elie Saab. The actress had her hair pulled back into a tight bun as she accessorized the look with blue gem earrings. She completed the ensemble with black heels.

In an interview with Reuters last month, Ridley talked about reprising her role as Jedi hero, Rey, and said that it feels “exciting and nerve-racking” as she returns to the “Star Wars” franchise for a new film.

Walt Disney Co, which purchased Star Wars producer Lucasfilm in 2012 and released three movies starring Ridley from 2015 to 2019 as well as a different TV series, announced new plans for the franchise last year.

“I’m very excited, it feels like a new adventure,” Ridley told Reuters at the London premiere of another Disney film, “Young Woman and the Sea.”

“It’s a world that I’m familiar with, I’m coming back to, but also it feels like a new start. So, it feels exciting and nerve-racking and I’m excited.”


A post shared by Daisy Ridley (@daisyridley)

In “Young Woman and the Sea” Ridley plays American swimmer Gertrude Trudy Ederle, an Olympic gold medalist who became the first woman to swim the English Channel.

In 1926, Ederle set off from northern France for the southern English coast, making the crossing in 14 hours, 31 minutes, and beating the men’s world record by one hour and 59 minutes.


A post shared by Daisy Ridley (@daisyridley)

Despite a huge celebratory parade in New York on her return, Ederle’s name and accomplishments are not as well known to the public as those of other sports figures. Ederle died in 2003.

“Playing someone who is determined and resilient ... who has a real joy for what they’re doing, is wonderful,” Ridley said, adding that she had undergone a “pretty gruelling” swimming training schedule for the role.

Best & Worst: Actress Darin Al-Bayed talks fashion trends and bad advice

Updated 12 July 2024

Best & Worst: Actress Darin Al-Bayed talks fashion trends and bad advice

DUBAI: Based in Saudi Arabia, Lebanese actress Darin Al-Bayed discusses fashion trends, breathing exercises, and bad advice. 

Best TV show/film you’ve ever seen?   

“The Pianist.” Adrien Brody gave one of the best performances I’ve ever seen. And I really enjoy true stories in movies.  

Worst TV show/film you’ve ever seen?  

I don't like horror movies because they’re fantasies and I don't like fantasy films.  

Best personal style moment so far?   

I absolutely love oversized clothes! You can wear them out, keep it casual, dress them up for formal occasions… Basically, no matter how you style them, they always look great. Even as PJs or when you're chilling with the girls, they just work. 

Worst personal style moment?   

I can’t stand anything tight. Neon colors are a no-go for me too. One time, I decided to step out of my comfort zone and try something new — a fabric test to see what colors suit me. Silver and gold were okay, but bright pinks and similar shades just don’t work for me, and, honestly, I don’t like them. 

Best accessory for a little black dress?   

I prefer when a girl's natural beauty shines through. Simple and natural is my style. I believe the woman should bring value to the outfit, not the other way around. If I do accessorize, I go for simple, petite gold jewelry, like earrings and rings. I hate necklaces. I prefer something subtle that complements the look. 

Worst accessory for a little black dress?   

If someone forces me to wear jewelry they think looks better, it can be tough. That often happens with photoshoots when there’s a stylist involved. They have their own vision, which can be quite different from mine. You know what works best for you and what you’re comfortable with, but sometimes they push you out of your comfort zone. So, I end up wearing the bulky, chunky pieces they pick out. 

Best fashion trend of 2024?    

I still think oversized pieces are trending, and I love that.  

Worst fashion trend of 2024?    

Ripped outfits. I can’t stand them. I just don’t see the appeal. To me, they make a person look like they don't know how to dress properly. I’m not sure how it became a trend.  

 Best advice you’ve ever been given?   

I forget a lot, but the best advice always comes from my mom. She's a treasure trove of wisdom. I’m short-tempered, and my anger issues sometimes lead me to do things I regret. I often wish I’d listened to her when I was younger, around 15, especially about breathing. She’d tell me to go to my room, take 15 seconds to breathe, and make this a habit before bed. When I finally followed her advice, it completely changed me. I thought I needed a doctor, but my mom was the doctor all along. 

Worst advice you’ve ever been given?  

“Do whatever you want” is the biggest lie and the worst advice. I need people who understand situations, especially older people with more experience. I can’t always rely on my feelings. I might think I’m making the right choice, but that’s not always the case. 

Best book you’ve ever read?    

“Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.” It inspired me to start my show “Ana Wa Heya,” which explored the differences between men and women in their duties, thoughts, responsibilities and feelings. I did two seasons. Back then, YouTube was the trending platform, and we’d get six to seven million views for each episode. 

Worst book you’ve ever read?    

I don’t really have a “worst” one. Some take more time to get through, but I don’t regret reading them — I think it’s good that I did. 

Best thing to do when you’re feeling low?    

Breathing exercises. Seriously, they’re incredibly helpful. I also write. A lot. I jot down things that are hard to talk about. I had habits that I’ve changed. Instead of ranting to a friend, I take a notebook and write down my feelings. I also do yoga and stretching. Or I go outside and sit on the beach. During this time, I don’t speak a word. I just write and keep my phone away. 

Worst thing to do when you’re feeling low?    

You have to confront situations. It’s OK to acknowledge that you’re feeling down and give yourself time to feel that. Escaping is not the solution. Give those feelings time, sit alone, and work through them. Then you can move past it. 

Best holiday destination?    

For me, a perfect holiday is doing what I love. Playing volleyball, going to the beach, swimming, and driving from one city to another with people I love are all I need. Even enjoying my favorite foods can make my holiday special. These might seem like small and simple things, but to me, they’re everything. 

Worst holiday destination?   

I can't stand being around controlling people. I hate when someone tries to force me to do things while I am traveling. Having people dictate where I should go and what I should eat feels really limiting to me.   

Best subject at school?    

I really liked history and arts. I love watching historical movies and exploring monuments when I travel. I used to enjoy them even more when I was younger.  

Worst subject at school?    

Math. I never understood it.  

Best thing to do to ensure you have a productive day?   

I always plan my day the night before. I can’t wake up without knowing what I need to do. Not having a plan makes me feel lost.  

Imaan Hammam celebrates ‘beauty that is Moroccan culture’

Updated 10 July 2024

Imaan Hammam celebrates ‘beauty that is Moroccan culture’

DUBAI: Moroccan Egyptian Dutch model Imaan Hammam took to social media to share her latest fashion shoot, in which she celebrates Moroccan culture.

“I will always be proud when I get to show off the beauty that is Moroccan culture and collaborate with so many amazing artists and creatives,” Hammam captioned a carousel of snaps on Instagram.


A post shared by Imaan Hammam (@imaanhammam)

The model collaborated with auteur Marwane Jinane, photographer Hamza Lafrouji and a fellow model and creative who goes by the name Cheb Pablo on the shoot, which sees the pair posing in various locations in Casablanca.

“Hood fashion shoot. Fancy threads meet street grit. Models flexin’ in the ‘hood. Iman and Pablo killin’ it. High fashion clashing with rough backdrop. Raw, edgy vibes. Flipping the script on glam. Style popping in unlikely spots. It’s fire,” Lafrouji posted on Instagram.

Hammam is known for working with and promoting artists and creatives from the MENA region with her 1.7 million Instagram followers. The runway star — who is a fashion week staple and is currently the brand ambassador of cosmetics giant Estée Lauder — is known for dropping personally curated playlists of regional music for her social media fans and she has also promoted regional artists in the past.

The model has had a busy summer so far, most recently hitting the runway at the Vogue World event in Paris in June alongside Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadidi, French Algerian icon Farida Khelfa and Venus and Serena Williams.

On International Olympic Day, Vogue World took over the last day of Paris Fashion Week’s menswear collections with a show-cum-spectacle themed around the Olympics.

The rare event blended athleticism, French fashion, and pure, unadulterated razzmatazz from the past century — marking 100 years since the last Games in Paris in 1924. The event also referred back to June 23, 1894, the day on which the founder of the modern Olympics, French nobleman Pierre de Coubertin, launched the International Olympic Committee.

Ikram Abdi serves up courtside style at Wimbledon

Updated 09 July 2024

Ikram Abdi serves up courtside style at Wimbledon

DUBAI: Swedish-born Somali model Ikram Abdi was spotted at Wimbledon on Monday and was photographed at the Ralph Lauren Suite before she took in a game on day eight of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships.

Abdi showed off classic summer stripes in the form of a pant suit from the brand’s Polo Ralph Lauren line. She sat alongside entertainment industry insiders including British actress Jodie Turner-Smith and British Netflix star Yasmin Finney.

kram Abdi was photographed at the Ralph Lauren Suite at Wimbledon. (Getty Images) 

Tony Award-winning British actress Sophie Okoneda was also photographed at the Ralph Lauren Suite, where she showed off a cream-and-white tailored look.

Wimbledon has had no shortage of celebrity attendees, with the coveted Royal Box playing host to a number of A-list stars.

Situated in the prime-viewing slot at Centre Court, the Royal Box has been a hot ticket since 1922 and it has 74 exclusive seats. Invitations are sent by the Chairman of the All England Club, but members of The Championships’ Organising Committee and The Lawn Tennis Association can make suggestions, according to the Independent.

Monday’s guest list included Lenny Henry, Cliff Richard, Nicole Scherzinger and Prince Albert of Monaco.

Salma Hayek and François-Henri Pinault, David Beckham, Dave Grohl and Dustin Hoffman are just a few of the other celebrities who have been spotted in the crowd at Wimbledon this year.

It is the second time Abdi may have crossed paths with US Mexican actress Hayek, who was also spotted at an event in London in June.


A post shared by Ralph Lauren (@ralphlauren)

Qatar’s Fashion Trust Arabia held a party at Claridge’s Hotel in London on June 17 to celebrate its cohort of winners for 2023.

Abdi attended the event alongside Hayek and the prize-winning designers.

Abdi made her catwalk debut in 2018 during London Modest Fashion Week. She would go on to walk for the likes of Iceberg and Charles Jeffrey, as well as front campaigns for major international brands, including Burberry and Nike. 

Saudi TV personality Sara Murad launches her own fragrance brand 

Updated 05 July 2024

Saudi TV personality Sara Murad launches her own fragrance brand 

  • The Saudi TV personality branches out into entrepreneurship 

DUBAI: Saudi media personality Sara Murad has been a mainstay in Arab households for more than a decade, most recently as the presenter of MBC morning show “Sabah Alkhair Ya Arab.” 

“When someone tells me that I made a change in their life, it feels so rewarding and makes me want to give more,” Murad tells Arab News. 

As part of that effort to ‘give more,’ Murad decided last year to launch her own fragrance brand, By Sara Murad. 

The first fragrance from her brand is Black Oud. (Supplied)

“I’ve always wanted to be a businesswoman; I just never had the time or the right team to take the step. Putting everything together feels so exciting and gave me the drive to launch a brand,” Murad, who is now a Dubai resident, says. 

“Everyone loves fragrance, it’s embedded in our culture. And I have always been passionate about collecting them. But with By Sara Murad, I wanted to create something that would showcase our culture with a modern twist that could reach the world. And I wanted to create something with my name that I’ve been working on for so long,” she added. 

The first fragrance from her brand — Black Oud — is “a harmonious melding of French elegance and the pride of Saudi Arabia,” according to the publicity blurb, “blending notes of Oud, amber, wood and leather.” 


A post shared by By Sara Murad (@bysaramurad)

“Saudi Arabia is all the inspiration — including the change, the openness and invitation to the world, the inspiration that the country is giving to the youth and the empowerment that is giving us as women,” she says. “To see the Kingdom’s growth has been fascinating and makes me so proud. To see the opportunity that’s been given to women and men… it’s definitely a chance for the young to grow.” 

When she was a young adult, Murad would have never imagined she would find a career as a TV presenter. She graduated as a graphic designer and was interested primarily in advertising and production work. 


A post shared by By Sara Murad (@bysaramurad)

“I never thought of (trying to get) a job in front of the camera. I believe everyone gets an opportunity but sometimes it is so out of our comfort zone that we reject it,” she says. “When I got offered the job, I challenged myself to try it, thinking that I had nothing to lose and that it would be an experience. And here I am,12 years later.” 

Her success was hard-won. “Honestly, it’s not a field where you meet people who want to help you grow, so I counted on myself and learned a lot — most of it the hard way,” she says. 

In the beginning, there were people who were surprised to learn that she was a Saudi woman. “But now the whole world knows what a Saudi woman is capable of,” she adds. 

Juggling a full-time job with a new business is, of course, no mean feat, and Murad makes it work by being organized at all times. 

“My days are never (the same). My schedule is always changing. There is always something new happening, whether it is the show I’m presenting, or a photo shoot, or working on a new fragrance. There is nothing typical about my life. But I try to manage as far as I can to give everything my full attention. So, I’m very, very organized. And working with a great team also helps a lot to reach my goals,” she says. 

“When it comes to de-stressing, I try to take it easy. I shut down work. I mean, I never shut down, who am I kidding? But I play the piano — that helps,” she continues. “I like to read, that also helps. And I like to travel a lot and change scenery as well, even if it’s for work.”