Carla Bruni, from catwalk to the Elysee Palace

Fri Jan 11, 2008 5:26pm EST
 
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By James Mackenzie

PARIS (Reuters) - Carla Bruni, the Italian singer and former supermodel, would bring a dose of glamour to the Elysee Palace if her surprising romance with President Nicolas Sarkozy ends in marriage.

A feline star of the catwalk turned husky voiced chanteuse, Bruni, the scion of a rich Italian industrial dynasty, embodies a world of cultured glamour far removed from the ambitious outsider who won the French presidency last year.

Her patrician indifference to bourgeois convention and her relationships with rock stars and intellectuals also seem to mark her as part of the Left Bank Parisian cultural elite that Sarkozy is normally assumed to despise.

Sarkozy, a former lawyer and champion of "the France that gets up early," has little known interest in the arts apart from his friendship with French rocker Johnny Hallyday. He once declared "I am not an intellectual."

But there was little doubting the president's feelings as the pair toured the pyramids hand in hand or gamboled in the Egyptian surf together last month.

"It's serious," Sarkozy, 52, told the press but triggered feverish speculation about a possible wedding date by adding: "There's a good chance you'll find out about it when it's already happened."

The 40 year-old Bruni, a tall, slim brunette, bears a certain physical resemblance to Sarkozy's second wife Cecilia, who made no secret of her dislike of the role of First Lady and spent little time in the Elysee Palace.

But she would mark a distinct change of tone from Bernadette Chirac, the formidable wife of former President Jacques Chirac whose style was unmistakably that of a "grande dame" from the old-fashioned French bourgeoisie.   Continued...

 
<p>France's President Nicolas Sarkozy and his new girlfriend, Carla Bruni, walk together during a visit to the Giza pyramids in Cairo, December 30, 2007. Bruni, the Italian singer and former supermodel, would bring a dose of glamour to the Elysee Palace if her surprising romance with President Nicolas Sarkozy ends in marriage. REUTERS/Nasser Nuri/Files</p>