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Are Fashion & Politics The New Bedfellows?

Carla Bruni

Carla Bruni

PARIS, Dec 18, 2007 / FW/ — It was bound to happen, fashion and politics finding each other. And, where else can it happen in the modern world but in France, the birthplace of fashion.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy was photographed last weekend with former supermodel turned singer Carla Bruni at Euro Disney, fueling rumors of romance just two months after Sarkozy divorced his second wife.

Two of Paris’ leading newspapers, Le Figaro and Le Parisien carried front page photos of the couple, identifying Bruni as the “President’s girlfriend.”

Though the western world is already becoming jaded with the tabloid coverage of celebrities, a head of state being a paparazzi target is actually something new. In fact, a political figure being treated like a celebrity in terms of press coverage is something that had not happened before.

Some would say that members of the British Royal family are also political figures. But, as the whole world knows, the real political power lies with the Prime Minister while the Queen is actually a figurehead.

In the U.S., the political press corps gives daily updates on what is happening inside the Washington beltway. National TV shows the President getting in and out of Air Force One. Interviews are done while the President is jogging. But, the U.S. President has never been treated like a celebrity. He is treated as ‘presidential,’ pardon the pun.

The nearest thing that the Oval Office had been treated as a ‘celebrity’ is via the members of the first family. The first lady Laura Bush was once voted by People Magazine as one of the 50 Most Beautiful People; and of course, whatever the twins Jenna and Barbara do somehow always end up in a magazine or on the papers.

Still, they are never hounded by the paparazzi the same way that they follow Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Aniston’s antics.

Like celebrities, fashion figures, especially models are used to being in front of the camera, whether on a photo shoot, the runway or by the paparazzi. In a lot of ways, political figures are also used to the camera, except that whatever politicians say are analyzed by political pundits on national TV and newspapers while whatever a model say usually gets lost among the gallery of photos.

Carla Bruni, as a former supermodel and now a singer is used to handling the press in general. But, the political press corps is something new to her. President Sarkozy is also used to the press, but the paparazzi is something new to him in a lot of ways.

As these two disparate worlds collide, the very analytical political press corps and the very visual celebrity photographers, it will be very interesting to know how these two shall meet.

[FELICIA PRINCE]