France vs Spain in style showdown

A state visit to Madrid by President Sarkozy became a catwalk contest as his wife and Princess Letizia strove to steal the show

Princess Letizia of Spain

Married to one of Europe's most attractive men, 36-year-old Spanish Princess Letizia already has the prize, but upstaging her "neighbour" was clearly too tempting to resist.

Hair

Pure Royal Barbie. Those casually tossed-back tendrils have been artfully teased, but it's possible to see where the discreet highlights need touching up.

Dress

Letizia would look good in a sack, but there's no mistaking a ruinously expensive designer number. The "bracelet" sleeves are elegant, the nipped-in waist delivers killer curves and it's the perfect length for skimming over older-than-teenage knees.

Figure

Most mothers of two would struggle to recover a hand-span waist like Letizia's. Perhaps there's a state-of-the-art gym in the palace? Rumours swirl of plastic surgery, but there's not a surgeon in the world who can deliver slender calves and ankles like hers, so we assume any knifework is limited to her line-less face.

Shoes

A mis-step. From the back, there's a whiff of the street-walker about these platform pink heels, but when you learn that the Prince is 6ft 5in, all becomes clear. It's true that royals often let themselves down with disproportionately clunky shoes, so Letizia's high-fashion footwear is a fitting statement for someone who has to walk no further than 10 yards along a receiving line.

Verdict

Letizia has the physical advantage so can afford to tone down the glamour.

Carla Bruni, France's First Lady

Ms Bruni has enjoyed being "the sexy chanteuse who snared Sarko", but now she has to perform on a stage bigger than any from her musical career – the world's political stage. It's clearly harder than she thought.

Hair

By taming her boho tendrils, Carla has performed a Samson-like mistake: she's lost all her strength.

Dress

Navy blue. Form fitting. Christian Dior. Three terms that should guarantee lust and envy from onlookers in equal measures. But next to Letizia, this misfires. The shoulders are fussy, the waistband untidy and, without a slit, the pencil skirt makes negotiating steps awkward. And the back view is kinder than the front. Not Dior designer John Galliano's finest hour.

Figure

Here Carla can claim the high ground. As befits a fortysomething mother, she is trim but not scarily thin, and while she may not have the décolletage of her rival, fashion purists insist clothes hang better on less busty women. The way she holds her arms is surely a hangover from Carla's days as a supermodel.

Shoes

Kitten heels are never acceptable these days in fashionable circles. OK, so her husband's a shortarse, but Carla should rise above such a faux pas. If Nicolas is that sensitive, bring back the ballet flats. However, these shoes are made by Christian Louboutin, the last word in footwear couture.

Verdict

Carla should stay true to her fashion credentials.

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