Mediaworld: Charms to sooth...

There are few wives of heads of state that have captivated our islands but, as of now, we must inaugurate Madame Bruni Sarkozy into that Hall of Fame.Until Carla Bruni only Eva Peron, Jackie Kennedy and Princess Grace of Monaco had truly captured the public imagination.

Lynne Mortimer

There are few wives of heads of state that have captivated our islands but, as of now, we must inaugurate Madame Bruni Sarkozy into that Hall of Fame.

Until Carla Bruni only Eva Peron, Jackie Kennedy and Princess Grace of Monaco had truly captured the public imagination.

Over the centuries, beautiful women married to powerful men have always held us in thrall.

The President of France, Nicholas Sarkozy and his new wife, Carla, were on a charm offensive in the UK last week and I think it was fair to say that, with a single, minor exception, they succeeded.

The one exception, of course, was the flat shoes the former supermodel turned singer wore so that she did not tower over her shorter husband. She has drawn both admiration and criticism for the fashion choice. By and large the admiration has come from the political commentators who felt that going flat-footed was a statement of Carla's intent to be the perfect companion to le President.

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The criticism was mainly from the fashion writers who just felt it was an enormous shame that the Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy look was marred by the flatties. A small heel would have done so much more for her fabulous legs, they grumbled… rather ignoring the fact that some of the world's first ladies are only ever mentioned in connection with footwear because they look like old boots.

The leading article in the Independent, on Saturday, positively drooled that the Roman beauty came, saw and conquered not by force but "through beauty, grace, couture…".

"If only," it intoned, "every Continental leader had a Carla they could deploy on such (state) visits. If they did, one suspects Britain would be a good deal closer to the heart of Europe by now."

In the Sunday Times, columnist India Knight raves: "One shouldn't love her, really, but I'm nearly as mad about her as he (Sarkozy) is."

In The Telegraph, Kate Weinberg, makes the comparison with Eve Peron, Grace Kelly and Jacqueline Kennedy and comments: "Carla has morphed from shabby-chic Left-wing chanteuse to immaculate First Lady in a matter of weeks."

She says: "It has been a long time since the world has had a First Lady with such star power."

Even the most grizzled of journalists, and by that I mean Jeremy Paxman, was bowled over, expressing his admiration for her "pins".

Meanwhile Sarkozy's address to Parliament, delivered with his wife at his side, elicited the comment: "Crusty old codgers who spend their lives steeped in policy documents smiled for the first time in years," from sketch-writer Simon Hoggart in The Guardian.

President Sarkozy announced he was "deeply moved" by the reception his wife received in the UK - something of a contrast to the negative headlines their relationship has made in France.

Only a crusty old cynic might suggest that the UK media have embraced her so warmly largely because the French media have been sniffy.

In fact, of course, the gorgeous Carla, la belle dame sans talons, did not put a foot wrong during her visit to our shores.

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