Viv Groskop: Carla, Luydmila and the woes of First Ladies

Notebook

Share
Related Topics

Carla Bruni is a woman of many talents. Singer, actress, rock star arm candy, First Lady of France. It looks, though, as if she might be about to go down in history for another reason entirely: serving up France's first Socialist presidency in a generation.

Of course, we can't entirely blame her for the fact that Nicolas Sarkozy is the most unpopular president ever to run for re-election in France. But as François Hollande – whose people market him as "Monsieur Normal" – surged a percentage point ahead in the first round of elections, it is now suggested that having a beautiful celebrity wife might have been far more of hindrance than a help for Sarkozy.

The French used to love to pretend that they look down upon the tittle-tattle of the press in other countries all the while ignoring the fact that Paris Match sells 620,000 copies a week (more than Hello! magazine). Bruni has put paid to all that. The French call her "Carla" and track her every change of heel height. But a celeb mag following doesn't mean people actually like you. Sometimes it's because they love to hate you.

With Carla as consort, complete with Vanity Fair shoots on the roof of the Elysée Palace, Sarkozy is seen as the man responsible for making the expression "bling-bling" mainstream in France. Which has made it pretty easy for his rival to rack up a series of vote-winning anti-rich proposals, the most popular of which is a 75% tax on incomes more than 1 million euros.

Bruni is a symptom rather than a cause. But if you want to be seen as a man of the people, shacking up with a famous supermodel with both a different nationality and a personal fortune of €18m (nine times Sarkozy's own) after an 80-day whirlwind romance... Well, it's probably quite good for the self-esteem of a man in his late fifties. And, boy, has Sarkozy looked smug for the past four years. But it's not great for PR in an economic crisis.

It's not too late, though. Sarko might want to take a tip from Vladimir Putin before May 6's final run-off. Putin's wife, Lyudmila is rarely seen in public. So much so that the latest claim is that she is in exile in a monastery outside Pskov, near Russia's border with Estonia. A spokesman for the Russian Orthodox Church said: "It is the right of anybody to spend time at one in contemplative prayer." Any room for an ex-model tired of the Parisian rat race? Get thee to the nunnery, Carla.

Your choice or Mrs Beckham's?

Thrilling news from the world of motoring! Victoria Beckham has designed a Range Rover. Or, rather, she has picked out her favourite leather finish and installed it in 200 limited-edition cars on sale at a showroom near you. If you have £80,000, that is.

Once upon a time this was known as customising your interior. Which is surely one of the reasons people pay ridiculous sums of money to buy upmarket cars. Why would you want Victoria Beckham's choice when you could have your own?

And why – other than for money, of which she already has plenty – would Victoria sully her newly-gained, spotless reputation in the fashion industry with a commission more worthy of Boycie in Only Fools and Horses?

But what do I know? I distinguish cars by colour and floor content. I currently drive a metallic beige one full of empty crisp packets. One for next season, Range Rover?

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wimbledon, SW London

£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

I’m not sure I fancy any meal that’s been cooked up by a computer

John Walsh
Labour leader Ed Miliband delivers a speech on his party's plans for the NHS, in Sale, on Tuesday  

Why is Miliband fixating on the NHS when he’d be better off focussing on the wealth gap?

Andreas Whittam Smith
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore