Can I have what you’re wearing, Jane?

Photo: Getty Images

After bumping into Jane Birkin at a recent gig, Stacey Duguid can confirm she’s as stylish now as she ever was. She just wants to know where those tuxedo trousers are from...

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By Stacey Duguid on

After Boy George once told me to “Fuck off” outside a nightclub in the mid-90s, I vowed never again to introduce myself to one of my heroes. Then, last Tuesday night, hand outstretched and a bit gibberish-mouthed in an embarrassingly fan-girl, tongue-twisted way, I attempted to make conversation with one of the world’s most stylish women. Believe me, at 70 years old, Jane Birkin is as cool as she ever was.

Fresh off the stage, the smiley, bright-faced Birkin had just performed a moving symphonic tribute to former partner Serge Gainsbourg at the Barbican Centre, London. And now, here she was, stood right in front of me, and I didn’t know where to look. Having spent the best part of two hours gawping at my style icon from the safe distance of the audience, I was more than happy to leave the Barbican. But then I bumped into the M&S PR at the bar who, because they were sponsors of the performance, had organised a post-show meet and greet with “Jane”. “Want to come upstairs to meet her?” she asked. “Fuck no,” I thought...

I’m reluctant to use the word “icon” these days. A word once used to describe the very, very best of the best, it’s become so overused I no longer believe it. It’s everywhere – iconic coats, iconic trousers, iconic skirts, regardless of dog-shit-quality fabrics and ill-fitting cuts. But, when the iconic Jane Birkin stood on stage, wearing her iconic “borrowed from the boys” white shirt and black tailored trousers, well, I’ll eat my iconic hat. She is, in every sense of the word, the very definition of an icon.

Now, aged 70, she remains a hip-as-hell tomboy. Chic beyond, I spent as much time during the performance trying to figure out the origins of her outfit as I did paying attention to the orchestra

Over the past two decades, I’ve lost count of how many pictures of Jane Birkin circa 1967 that have been pinned to moodboards as an inspiration starting point for a fashion shoot. The heavy fringe, the elfin face, the simple T-shirts and flared jeans – she began dressing like a boy years before it became a thing. And now, aged 70, she remains a hip-as-hell tomboy. Chic beyond, I spent as much time during the performance trying to figure out the origins of her outfit as I did paying attention to the orchestra. Were her smart black trousers with silk side-stripe part of a men’s Saint Laurent tuxedo? Men’s, women’s – either way, they looked fantastic worn with an expensive-looking white silk blouse.  

“She wears her white shirts two sizes too big,” a woman whispered in my ear at the awkward Birkin meet and greet. “But that blouse, the one she’s wearing, is it M&S?” I whispered back, feeling slightly desperate in the hope there could be a chance it’s within my price range. It wasn’t M&S, but Birkin does, I am reliably told, wear M&S shirts with jeans (see below) on a regular basis. “I’m so doing that look tomorrow,” said my friend Kate on our way home on the Tube. And sure enough, 9am the following day, Kate – a woman more known for her grown-up boho style than French tomboy chic – texted a pic. “White shirt, blue trousers, really bad toilet selfie, I’m speaking only in pretend French from now on.” Moi aussi, by the way. Moi aussi.

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