Fashionista Street: More Than Arm Candy

ARM CANDY: Carla Bruni and Eric Clapton at a benefit for rain forests about 1992.
Carla Bruni and Eric Clapton at a benefit for rain forests about 1992. [Photo Source: NYT]

I’m not the only culture wag fascinated by this story. The New York Times weighed in on the Carla-Sarko affair — note that I’ve changed the principals’ order — with a Sunday Style piece that begs the question, “Who’s trading up, here?”

NYT’s Guy Trebay fills in the back-story:

Because model is so often used as a synonym for moron, few have stopped to consider that, in pure résumé terms, Ms. Bruni may be better equipped than many for a gig at Élysée Palace. For starters, she is a stepdaughter of an Italian tire magnate and classical composer, Alberto Bruni Tedeschi, who is married to her mother, Marisa Borini, a concert pianist. She is rich and well educated (in France, where her family moved in the 1970s to escape a wave of kidnappings in Italy) and speaks three languages.

After she aged out of her career as one of the most highly paid models of the 1990s, with campaigns for Dior and Chanel and some 250 magazine covers to her credit, she became a musician, a transition less surprising when one considers her heritage and past relationships. Her first album of breathy emotive music, set mostly to acoustic guitar was released in 2003 and quickly became a success. “Quelqu’un m’a dit” (“Someone Told Me”) produced a best-selling single, sold over a million copies in France, another 300,000 outside the country and in 2004 garnered Ms. Bruni the French equivalent of a Grammy as the country’s best female vocalist.

And that’s not the half of it. The tawdriest skeletons in her closet aren’t rock stars but philosophers:

“Carla works quick,” a French fashion editor familiar with Ms. Bruni from her modeling days, said of her, speaking anonymously to avoid betraying their friendship. Certainly this view is shared by Justine Lévy, the novelist daughter of the philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy, who was married to the philosopher Raphaël Enthoven when Ms. Bruni fell in love with him, after reportedly conducting an affair with his father, Jean-Paul. A novella Ms. Lévy wrote afterward about this contorted scenario featured a fictional character based on Ms. Bruni, a woman “beautiful and bionic, with the look of a killer” and known as the “Terminator” in the book.

These things may not be positive in the political arena. Yet, some people ask, is Ms. Bruni less publicly palatable than her diffident predecessor just because she has been photographed in nothing more than underpants?

I’m new to the fashionista beat. I ‘m still learning the lingo. Arm candy? Serial heart-wrecker? First Sleepover Pal? Never thought the NYT would be my gossip guru.

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