French dressing: France's first lady arrives in Britain

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Carla Bruni, the supermodel now married to France's President, cut a surprisingly demure and understated figure yesterday when she arrived in Britain. By Carola Long

When Carla Bruni-Sarkozy came down the steps of the plane at Heathrow yesterday, you could be forgiven for thinking one of three things. That she had swapped outfits with an air hostess on board, that she had spent weeks studying pictures of Jackie Kennedy and her classic pillbox, or she had renounced being the President's wife and taken holy orders. Or perhaps all three.

For the supermodel turned singer and serial rock-star girlfriend who has declared herself easily "bored with monogamy", it was an astonishingly demure, almost nun-like outfit – but then that was precisely the idea. With a bold, nude picture of her just released to the press, it is hardly surprising that Mme Bruni-Sarkozy wanted to cover herself up as chastely as possible and present an image that was formal, decorous and appropriate – a world away from the bling-bling president label that has attached itself to M. Sarkozy and his Ray-Bans.

It was a chic, flattering shape, and showed off her figure but the grey colour was so understated she almost blended into the asphalt. Or perhaps she had matched her clothes to what she had heard about the British weather. Strangely, she changed three times throughout the day, but into variations on the same demure theme. Even at a white-tie state dinner in the evening she eschewed high octane red carpet glamour in favour of a navy silk floor-length dress with delicate jewellery. The sheer cape on the dress ensured that her arms were largely covered, and she exposed nothing more daring than a flash of forearm.

But perhaps these ensembles should not have come as such a surprise. Her dress sense is nowhere near so wild as her bohemian past and romantic trysts might lead you to expect. In fact, Mme Bruni-Sarkozy's recent outfits have been fairly understated. She often favours white shirts, plain black outfits or jeans and simple jumpers, almost always with flat shoes.

Yesterday's outfit was teamed with flat ballet pumps, while it was M. Sarkozy who sported shoes with a considerable heel to even out the height difference between him and his beloved.

Mme Bruni-Sarkozy has not just toed the line with her tactful footwear and high neckline; her sober wool and jersey belted coat, bag and gloves were all made by Christian Dior, as were the two outfits she wore at Windsor Castle and Parliament.

By choosing a Parisian designer she has shown support for France and one of its key industries – unlike Cécilia Sarkozy, who wore her rebellious streak on her sleeve when she wore a dress by Prada – an Italian label – at M. Sarkozy's inauguration.

M. Sarkozy might be branding himself as forward thinking, but it is his wife who has her eye on fashion's future. Her clothes – from Dior's autumn 2008 collection – will not be available in the shops for a couple of months.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Digital Marketing Executive

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A luxury beauty house with a nu...

Recruitment Genius: Housekeepers - Immediate Start

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This company are currently recruiting new exp...

Recruitment Genius: Head Concierge

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning Property Man...

Recruitment Genius: Content, SEO and PPC Executive

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral