Photos courtesy the official Saint Laurent Twitter page / @YSL
There is no living person more referenced in the world of fashion than Jane Birkin. The chanteuse and actress has been beguiling designers, stylists, and photographers with her bell-bottoms, semi-transparent dresses, and wicker baskets since the ’60s, and a cool 50 years later, her brand of unstudied nonchalance has lost none of its luster. In addition to her oft-referenced personal style, the Hermès bag to which Birkin lent her name is unquestionably the most famous purse on the planet. But for all her style cred, Birkin has magically remained mostly outside of the fashion system. She attends fashion shows once in a blue moon, appears in editorials extremely selectively, and by our count, has never posed for a high-fashion campaign. (She did lend her visage to a 1978 ad for Lee Cooper jeans and a 2015 campaign for French retailer La Redoute, with her daughter Lou Doillon, which was photographed by her other daughter Kate Barry.) That all changed this weekend.
During the social media lull of Sunday evening, Saint Laurent took to Twitter to reveal two images of Birkin taken as part of its ongoing Music Project. The black-and-white photos, shot by Hedi Slimane this March, depict a smiling Birkin in a mannish-cut Le Smoking inside the brand’s newly renovated couture studios on Paris’s Rue de l’Université. The house’s Music Project campaign is not tied to a specific season, but rather exists to promote iconic musicians who have inspired creative director Slimane over the years—past subjects include other fashion icons like Marianne Faithfull, Courtney Love, and Joni Mitchell. (It’s worth noting that most Music Project models are well over 35, in contrast to the teens and 20-somethings that appear on Saint Laurent runways.) So what compelled Birkin to pose for Slimane? Surely the list of his other subjects helped, though we’d venture rumors of the designer’s impending departure from Saint Laurent might’ve also nudged her. Whatever her motives, it’s pretty obvious that in booking the icon, Saint Laurent has the campaign casting coup of the season.