Behold: Carla Bruni on the cover of Vanity Fair's September issue. Yeah, we'd say they deserve a gold star (or hundred) for best September cover "get" or whatever, and we're severely jealous of cover-story writer Maureen Orth, whose piece has made us fall in love with Bruni more than we ever expected. Orth gets private girl time with Bruni in her house in Paris' sixteenth arrondissement and in her official First Lady office. That's right — not a flack in sight! In fact, when she's waiting for Bruni at her office, the First Lady is finishing lunch with Sarah Brown when Sarko bursts in. When Bruni introduces him to Orth and he says, "I am happy like nev-air" (could you imagine?). But on the matter of our girl crush, here are eleven reasons ours is newly fiery.
1. Being an independent woman was a huge priority in her life long before Destiny's Child wrote a song about it.
“I think it is a major duty for a woman to be independent.” She did not want to be like her grandmother, who was widowed at 34 and “never had another man.” She adds, “Independence was my obsession when I was 20. It was not making money; it was making my own money. Modeling meant I did not have to rely on my parents or a man.” … Modeling has a reputation for emptiness, but it’s not. It is certainly not German philosophy, but it was very instructive, because it was made up of real life. You travel, you are always alone, and you better be well grounded, because it’s easy to lose yourself.”
2. Karl Lagerfeld raves over her.
“She’s imaginative, clever, educated. She knows how to behave,” says designer Karl Lagerfeld, who often used Bruni as a model. “She speaks many languages. It must be an embarrassment for the wives of other heads of state to see this beautiful creature who can wear anything and speak like that.”
…“She was full of life and wit. She was beyond polite … So many, like Linda and Christy, had periods of being moody and difficult. She was always perfect.”
3. She helped Sarko shed his "le Président Bling-Bling" image and generally keeps him from embarrassing himself in public.
“The national conversation changed to the price of watches,” [Sarkozy's political adviser Jean-Luc] Mano said. More than one person told me approvingly that Bruni has helped bring Sarkozy to his senses, citing the fact that she made him get rid of his big gold Rolex and replace it with a sleek Patek Philippe, and that he no longer creates a ruckus by jogging in the Bois de Boulogne, the public park on the western edge of Paris — not since it became clear that the French were horrified to see pictures of their president sweating. These days, Bruni runs with him on the gravel paths in the Élysée garden.
4. She has the foresight and wherewithal to save Sarko from himself. And denim.
“He never thought that our going to Egypt would make such a fuss. We took three days, and it lasted weeks and weeks [in the press]. It looks like we spent five weeks lying on the beach, and we spent two hours. And for one hour he talked with Bernard Kouchner, because they were working hard. I said, ‘Nicolas, it’s not fair that people think you don’t work just because you’ve been wearing jeans with me.’” Thereupon Carla, no slouch in the image department herself, decreed No More Jeans.
5. She would not get photographed serving meals to her man.
“…I would project myself more like Jackie Kennedy than, for instance, Madame de Gaulle, who would be much more like the classical French woman behind her husband. There is a great photograph of Madame de Gaulle serving soup to her husband. I do serve soup to my husband sometimes, but I wouldn’t get photographed that way.”
6. She picks her lovers and has no regrets.
“It’s not that I had a lot of lovers,” Carla says. “It’s that I never hide them. It’s a different thing. I have not one day of regret.” According to [former agent] David Brown, “Carla’s taste in men has always been fascinating. I have never seen a man fawn over Carla. She chooses her equal.”
7. Like all normal people, she has been broken up with and admits it wasn't fun.
In May 2007, it was Carla’s turn to be surprised when, after they had been together nearly seven years, Raphaël [Enthoven, father of her son] told her he thought they should separate. They were living, she says, “with no engagement, no commitment,” very free. When he suggested they break up, “I hated it,” she admits. "'We’re becoming like friends,’ he said. 'What’s the point? We’re too young to be like that.'"
8. She didn't vote for Sarko, which made her feel uncomfortable when they first met.
Carla, who had asked [her host] if he knew anyone she could meet who was “free,” found herself seated to the president’s left. She had not voted for him, and at first she did not feel comfortable. “I wasn’t thinking of that,” she tells me. “I was thinking of someone more related to my life … I was really surprised by him, by his youth, his energy, his physical charm — which you could not actually see so much on television — his charisma. I was surprised by everything — his poise, and what he said, and the way he said it.”
9. Her son sassed Sarko when he came over for lunch for their first date after their initial meeting.
When her son came downstairs to be introduced to Sarkozy, the president said, “Your mother invited me to lunch. Is it all right if I come back sometime?” Aurélien answered, “Only if Mummy wants you to.”
10. She realizes, when it comes to media coverage of her and her relationship, she asked for it.
“I would never have gone to Petra — I would have said to Nicolas, ‘You know what? We wait six months and then we go to Petra or go to Disneyland.’” She says they both now realize their blunder. But she does not believe in whining: “When you have a relationship with the press, no matter what your job is, there is only one solution. Either do not court the press — and everyone is free to be unknown and have a perfectly fantastic life without being famous—or, if you expose yourself, it means there is something about you that wants to be there. It is not obligatory. I was not obliged to be a model. I was not obliged to be a singer. I could have been a doctor.”
11. She seems to genuinely want to help the world as First Lady.
“I get piles of information about what I could do for culture, for children, education, unhappy situations. But I need to study. I don’t want to make the wrong move, and I don’t want to go up against my husband.” It is not exactly an automatic switch, from the studiously cool world Carla used to inhabit to the fiercely scrutinized, 24-hour news cycle of political life. “Learning the code” is how she describes it. “When you are a songwriter and you say, ‘I like polyandry, ha, ha, ha,’ it is written down and it doesn’t matter. But if you’re a First Lady and you say, ‘I like Coca-Cola Light,’ it’s a drama. I have to pay attention to every detail, and that is very new for me.”
Paris Match [VF]