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Carla Bruni charms UK with fashion diplomacy

Martina Smit Telegraph
Carla Bruni charms UK with fashion diplomacy

For Carla Bruni, the new wife of France's president Nicolas Sarkozy, the state visit to London has been a metamorphosis of leaving her past behind and emerging as the first lady of fashion.

With little to say, but a much-lauded wardrobe by the British designer John Galliano for Christian Dior, the former model and singer charmed Britain.

The two-day visit culminated with her wearing a gorgeous silk muslin bustier gown in Bordeaux red to a banquet at the Guildhall.

The gown, which featured a bodice with a waterfall of 'mille feuille' ruffles, topped the midnight blue bias cut dress she wore to the state banquet the previous night.

At a luncheon for Britain's most powerful women hosted by Sarah Brown, the Prime Minister's wife (left), Miss Bruni stood out among the grey and black suits in a dazzling purple coat.

She later also wore tailored coat with a slip dress in the same colour - to the delight of her husband and his audience.

The splash of colour has been a change from Miss Bruni's otherwise grey outfits.

She has been widely praised for her demure appearance in a ribbed wool suit for lunch at Windsor Castle, a grey wool jersey dress and navy coat for her husband's speech at Westminster, and her arrival ensemble of a belted coat and tilted beret.

The first sight of Miss Bruni stepping off the plane at Heathrow so charmed the Prince of Wales that he instantly seize the chance to kiss her gloved hand.

The Duke of Edinburgh also clearly enjoyed Miss Bruni's company, while even Gordon Brown discarded his otherwise Cromwellian temperament to welcome the French first lady with much accord.

In a dash of gallantry, the Prime Minister kissed Miss Bruni on both cheeks while the cameras snapped away in front of 10 Downing Street.

Mrs Brown followed her husband's example of kindness, spending time with Miss Bruni to rehearse her first public address.

Suitably, out of the host of admirers surrounding Miss Bruni, her husband seemed chief of them all. The newly-weds shared a romantic moment aboard a boat on the Thames en route to the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich.

More than once the couple was glimpsed holding hands in public.

However, perhaps the biggest proof of the statuesque 5ft 9in Miss Bruni's admiration for Mr Sarkozy is her willingness to give up high heels.

Although her Dior pumps were sure to be the envy of many a woman - along with her shiny black leather handbag called The Babe, also from the Dior accessory stable - her shoes were notably flatter than her 5ft 5in husband's stacked heels.