Gordon Brown greets France’s first lady Carla Bruni with a kiss on the doorstep of 10 Downing Street. [Source: Telegraph]
First it was nude horses. Then it was a postmodern deconstruction of Simon Fluegel’s earthy subminimalism. Hundreds of thoughtful yet distracted voyeurs have flocked to the blog in search of the ridiculous, if not the sublime. Clearly, there’s a pent-up demand for mirth that reaches beyond Jerry Lewis and April Fools. So consider this timely fashion tip from The Guardian:
Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, the first lady of France, has been appointed by Gordon Brown to spearhead a government initiative aimed at injecting more style and glamour into British national life, the Guardian has learned.
Moving rapidly to capitalise on the national explosion of Carlamania, which saw Bruni-Sarkozy heralded as a new Princess Diana during the French state visit to the UK last week, Brown will formally announce the latest addition to his “government of all the talents” in a speech tomorrow at the Institut Français in South Kensington, London.
For too long, he will say, Britain has suffered an inferiority complex with regard to mainland European countries such as France and Italy, whose citizens are seen as effortlessly stylish and sophisticated.
“I want a Britain, now and in the future, where good taste and sophistication are the birthright of the many, not the privilege of an elite, whether in fashion, in food and drink, or in cultural pursuits,” Brown will say. To launch the scheme, the Italian-born Bruni-Sarkozy, 40, will relocate to London for three months, starting in June, according to one Brown aide. She is expected to commute back to Paris via Eurostar for French state engagements involving her husband, President Nicolas Sarkozy.
“At first, when it became clear she was going to upstage [Sarkozy] during the state visit, we got a bit worried about it all looking a bit frivolous,” the aide said. “But it was during the banquet at the Guildhall that the prime minister had his eureka moment. Yes, she charmed him. But the key point is that he is committed to putting that charm in the service of a better Britain.”
Bruni-Sarkozy will focus initially on improving the UK’s dress sense and cuisine. The aide joked that she would steer clear, for the moment, of the other popular British assumption about the French and Italians – that they have more exciting sex lives.
She is understood already to have spoken to the chief executive of Marks & Spencer, Stuart Rose, to discuss the launch of an affordable range of high-street designs inspired by the demure tailored grey suits that won her so much acclaim during last week’s visit. They were created for Dior by the British designer John Galliano, who has signed up as a supporter of Brown’s plan. The M&S versions will be roomier, and may incorporate several more practical features, such as zip-up pockets and mobile phone holders.
Bruni-Sarkozy has also expressed an interest in meeting Jamie Oliver to develop plans to introduce a more “continental” approach to eating and drinking, which could see British parents encouraged to serve small volumes of red wine with meals to children as young as seven or eight.
To coincide with the prime minister’s announcement, the thinktank Demos will release a report this week arguing that the answer to a wide swath of social and economic problems facing Britain may lie in adopting a more French approach.
“The missing ingredient in the UK’s approach to a range of pressing policy challenges is straightforward: it is savoir-faire,” the report’s authors said in a press release.
The study concludes that numerous national problems – including the decline of Britain’s railway infrastructure, the collapse of Northern Rock, and the scourge of binge drinking – could all have been more successfully addressed had politicians and bureaucrats demonstrated “a certain je ne sais quoi“.
The elation that greeted Bruni-Sarkozy in the UK last week, including rapturous newspaper and television coverage, frequently threatened to sideline the president, who unleased a tirade against one French journalist who asked him if she was stealing his limelight. But Bruni-Sarkozy herself enjoyed the state visit enormously, an Elysee spokesman said yesterday.
“The riotous scenes that greeted her wherever she went made her feel right at home, just as if she were in France,” he said.
French diplomats in London expressed delight at the apparent rekindling of the often chilly relationship between the two nations. “This week has been so wonderful – such a change from the usual British media coverage of France and the French, which is based on a handful of ill-founded stereotypes,” said Jean-Claude Forestier, assistant attache for cultural affairs at the French embassy in London. “It has been crazy here, with all the international media enquiries about Carla.
We have been working absolutely round the clock, from 9am to 3pm, just to keep up.”
Prince Charles buckles some swash as he kisses the hand of French First Lady Carla Bruni upon her arrival in Britain on March 28. Since when does Prince Charming have graying hair and double chins? [Source: thelondonpaper]