The Times – The style of Carla Bruni, First Lady of France<br/> From the gossip columns to the corridors of power, we trace the restyling of Mme Sarkozy

Sarah Vine:

From a female point of view, there is no doubt that the woman is a menace, a lethal combination of beauty and ruthlessness. But you have to admire her. First, for changing the course of French history by not settling for the role of acquiescent mistress and a nice apartment in a fashionable arrondissement, but getting the ring on her finger and a seat at the top table. And, secondly, for being true to herself. For Bruni, despite having lived much of her life in France, is the truest representation of Italian womanhood I have seen since Lucrezia Borgia.

This week’s performance was a brilliant lesson in the correct application of bella figura. In Italy, no matter how much of a minx you may be behind closed doors, as a woman you never let it show in public. You do not lose face and you don’t let your man down…

That is what we saw this week: the first sparks of a potentially stratospheric, old-style First Lady.

There follows input from a fashion expert, a deportment expert, a photographer, and a relationship expert.