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.

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Fans hold up a scarf at West Ham vs Liverpool
footballAfter Arsenal's clear victory, focus turns to West Ham vs Liverpool
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
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

Qualified Primary Teaching Assistant

£64 - £73 per day + Competitive rates based on experience : Randstad Education...

Primary KS2 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Primary NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Primary NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam