Jane Birkin at seventy

Jane Birkin turned seventy last December. She has resurfaced occasionally after the crushing loss of her eldest daughter at the end of 2013. Birkin remarked that she "did not leave the house for a year", grieving in private.

In spring of 2016 she was one of the faces of a Hedi Slimane St. Laurent campaign for Le Smoking, the suit that delivers a dash of insouciance to every woman wearing one. The professional shot makes the most of her natural beauty, and it's classic Jane, that warmth and nonchalance more appealing than the clothes.

This past fall, when photographed with her daughter Lou Doillon, Birkin had a fuller face and figure, which may be due to medication; she has mentioned that she had been "very ill".



Jane currently stars in what she says is her last film, the 30-minute "La Femme et le TGV" (The Railroad Lady), which received an Oscar nomination for Best Short Film. She's still 'Jane', showing a bare (well, for a film) face that's lived-in and wise.



Birkin, unlike few stars of her era (and a generation before) has not gone the surgery route. She said in an interview last year that not having begun those procedures decades before, she felt it was too late now—the change would be too dramatic.

I recalled what Carrie Fisher said: that when she signed her Star Wars contract she did not realize she was agreeing to look the same for the next forty years.

That wasn't Jane's deal. Adored for her nonchalant sexiness when young, celebrated in countless posts for a Levis-and-baskets raffishness as she matured, she now brings her presence and radiant smile to a last screen appearance.

Youthful beauty fades for everyone; intelligence and character persevere. I only hope, as Birkin steps from the stage, other women actors follow her, and let their unaltered faces travel along with us.







10 comments

Kristien62 said...

I admire those in the public eye who allow themselves to age naturally. While I would never criticize one's decision to use cosmetic enhancements, I have decided against it and for the same reason Ms. Birkin stated. The change would be too noticeable at this stage. My decision was bolstered after watching the Oscar's. The obviously unnatural look of a few older stars' faces was a bit unnerving.

Duchesse said...

Kritien62: For me, Fisher said it all: the audience wants little change, especially when the role is a franchise. I loved seeing the real-life mathematician Katherine Johnson receive her ovation- and thought she was beautiful, at 98.

LauraH said...

There are so few public role models for natural aging, even those who haven't had surgery may have had other procedures, fillers, lasers, etc. As my face changes, I admit the question of ..should I do something about this...comes into my head. Don't think I'll ever act on it but it is there.

Duchesse said...

LauraH: I rarely see an ad for a skin care product that does nit directly say it fights the visible signs of aging. The assumption is, Who would possibly want to look her age? I resent this age-shaming even more than I resent the inflated promises and wild price tag. I do use some of the low end products; they make a difference, especially in winter. But I am not kidding myself about "radiance", "toning" and "reduction of lines".

Rita said...

We know there are very large differences in the way people age. Some lose skin tone and get wrinkles much faster than others. So, while some of us are fortunate to not experience radical changes, that is never going to be true for all of us, regardless of how careful we are. I attended a presentation on cosmetic surgery given by a plastic surgeon once, and there was a 35 year-old in the audience who had a LOT of wrinkles and sagging. I would never criticize her for getting surgery done.

Duchesse said...

Rita: There are always examples of premature aging, both physically and mentally, and I doubt few persons would not be sympathetic to that.

But I am writing about the majority of women 50 and older, the ones who are told daily via ads for this or that cosmetic produce, procedure and for surgery that they are deficient just because they do not look 25 anymore.

I know plenty of women who have had procedures including full face lifts. Only one says it was for vanity and I admire her candour. The others say it is to attract a partner, or to be considered still employable. The majority look look damn good- except for one who died.


Leslie Milligan said...

I read a tweet after the academy awards, something to the effect of Grow odd or grow old. Jane obviously chose the more dignified and beautiful route.

Janice Riggs said...

I can't imagine going through a medical procedure just to change my appearance! Maybe I'm overly cautious, but general anesthetic isn't exactly risk-free. I'll just get old and consider it much better than the alternative...
hugs,
Janice

Beth said...

I think Jane looks beautiful, and that we need to accept our lines and wrinkles; they give our faces the character and depth that only comes with age. Looking at a recently discovered photo myself at 28, I think looked like a baby -- potential, but no depth yet.

lagatta à montréal said...

Jane had very good genetic material to work with, from her father David Birkin and her mother Judy Campbell.

http://www.cnewsmatin.fr/culture/2013-08-31/jane-birkin-ma-bretagne-523549 Her ties with Britanny, where her father did heroic service in the Royal Navy helping the Resistance maquis there.

Obit of her mum: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/judy-campbell-730550.html

She looks very puffy in those pictures; that looks like medication side-effects, not normal weight gain. Hope she is feeling better after all her trials.

I can't imagine going under the knife for cosmetic reasons; however after losing some postmenopausal weight that I wanted to lose, "I hate my neck". Other than that, I really can't complain about wrinkles.

There is a very real pressure on older workers, especially women, to take all kinds of measures to look younger, and sadly, they don't always deliver the hoped-for good, steady employment.