George at Asda are dumping Coleen McLoughlin in favour of Carla Bruni-Sarkozy. And this is clearly not a cheap publicity stunt cashing in on the latter's ruthless occupation of this country last month throughout which she brought the entire British media, salivating, to its knees.

"Among the names being considered is Carla Bruni. She's a very attractive and stylish person," an Asda spokesman told The Sun last week. Then, and apparently without a trace of irony: "We feel she would fit in very well with the George look."

The paper went on to confirm that McLoughlin will indeed no longer be the face of the brand. "Coleen has been a fantastic ambassador for us but we want to show that our core fashions are for everyone," George brand director Fiona Lambert added. "We have been chasing younger customers rather than people who shop at Asda week-in, week-out – mums and dads who buy their clothing during the weekly shopping trip."

That'll be people just like Bruni-Sarkozy, then, people who, when they're not cavorting in fashion glossies wearing no clothes at all, are dressed head-to-toe in Christian Dior haute couture. One can only presume that there must be something in the water at Asda HQ. As is often the case with such things, there is a grain of sense buried at the heart of it all. The days when McLoughlin and her ilk captured the imagination of the fashion establishment have passed. Serious times call for serious clothes and serious icons to match.

For her part, Bruni-Sarkozy knows this, which is why she chose to channel Jackie Kennedy during her stay here. And she is not alone. In fact, the world's designers are currently all busy casting any even remotely trashy celebrity aside in favour of rather more lofty role models. For Alexander McQueen's autumn/winter collection, for example, none other than the young Princess Elizabeth II has been cited as inspiration and HRH is also playing muse (unwitting, presumably) over at Dolce & Gabbana, shoving Italian sirens off their pedestals and cutting quite a dash in all those headscarves and tweeds.

Will any new-found sobriety last? Possibly not but it makes a change which, as we all know, is as good as a rest. As for Bruni-Sarkozy, it only remains for her to choose between George at Asda and, well, pick a major fashion name/fine jeweller/luxury hotel chain/airline that doesn't want to employ her. Not wishing to dampen any spirits, her aristocratic Roman profile is unlikely to be appearing on Asda billboards any time soon.

s.frankel@independent.co.uk

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