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Carla Bruni: first lady fatale

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Why Carla Bruni rejects feminism

Once a nude model and free-spirited rebel, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy has put away the Playboy vamp to become an elegant, charming and popular French First Lady, writes Chrissy Iley.

She used to smile and say “sex” instead of “fromage” during her supermodel photo shoots. By her own admission, “Okay, I flirt. I flirt with everything. Even inanimate objects.”

She used to say, “I am monogamous from time to time, but I prefer polygamy.” Outrageous, witty, voracious, Carla Bruni was all about appetite, never self-censure. She was bohemian. She was a muse for rock legend Eric Clapton and dated Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger for seven years, partly in secret while he was still married to Jerry Hall.

Now she is married to the President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, she is still about sexy. Yet she has disguised it. Just as she used to put on a disguise to hide from the paparazzi when she was dating Mick, it’s been said she still sometimes wears a wig and a disguise, not so much to hide, but because she likes the idea of swapping roles.

When she and Nicolas first started dating, her look was jeans with a G-string appearing above them. A flat stomach, skimpy bikini, long and tousled hair, she was pictured on motorbikes. Although she admits she was never shy or prudish, her clothes now stress the idea, “I am not immoral or vulgar”. The French expect their First Lady to be elegant.

Now she dresses in Dior. She caused a stir in a matronly Galliano for Dior coat. It could have been Margaret Thatcher, yet she still made it strangely sexy. She favours elegant. She cut centimetres off her hair and heels – she wears ballet pumps so as not to dwarf her husband. She looks more serious, reined in. She put away Playboy vamp, but somehow that didn’t diminish her and it certainly hasn’t hurt Nicolas’ popularity.

They first met at a dinner party in November 2007 hosted by Jacques Séguéla, an advertising mogul and former socialist who was a convert to the Sarkozy campaign. The frisson between Carla and Nicolas was obvious to all present. “It was love at first sight,” she has said.

Their romance was whirlwind. They had been seeing each other for only a month when he proposed. “He’s not a slow man,” says Carla. “He said, ‘I’m completely in love with you and I’d love to marry you’.”

To read more about Carla, see the August issue of The Australian Women’s Weekly, out now.

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