1) SHE INTIMIDATED CARLA
Carla Bruni’s absence in London meant it was Michelle’s time to shine. Of course, there were the Parisian mauvaise langues who claimed that the media-savvy Carla knew that she couldn't top last year's performance and wanted to avoid comparison to Michelle...
2) SHE SHOWED COURAGE
Michelle has won over the French. They appreciate that she's good-natured, dynamic, and trained as a lawyer—law being next to politics in France. There were a few squawks about her touching the Queen's back— zut alors! But they find her very warm and vrai. And vrai is the mood in Paris at the moment, with smart people giving dinners in the kitchen.
3) SHE’S A NEW BREED
Major bravos for her natural smile, big white American teeth and fit, strong body that isn’t starved. Having heaps of inner glamour, Michelle has finally broken the Jackie Kennedy myth. Jackie was geisha-like, chic but cheated on. And with high-profile politicians like Rachida Dati having babies out of wedlock, female submissiveness is very old guard and out in France. Michelle, on the other hand, represents the new guard. Viewed as an equal by her husband (considered rock star-like over here), she glows and has his love and respect.
4) HER STYLE IS NEW
Michelle won for being fresh and original. She was praised for wearing what she wants and what she senses suits her. Big labels (Oscar, Calvin, Donna), be damned! A cardigan to Buckingham Palace, she felt comfortable. Bare arms in April—why not when they’re toned? Carla's Dior convent-girl look, however, is getting tired. As one wag put it, "she's like the former showgirl who wants to win over her bourgeois belle-mère (mother-in-law)— ça suffit!' The fact that Michelle wore Azzedine Alaia twice—considered today’s designer du jour—suggests that she's more fashion forward than Carla. Weird when Carla used to model for Alaia and wear him a lot.
Carla's choice of a mouse-gray suede Dior coat with pussycat bow was dismissed as dowdy. Michelle's Thakoon coat and dress outfit was praised as a sharp, well-cut upper. There again, the following morning, Carla got a thumbs up for her lilac Dior coat—it had swing and suited her complexion—whereas Michelle’s choice of cropped Alaia jacket with Gunex’s pants did nothing for her shapely derrière. Note to MO—next time a skirt!
5) CARLA CAN LEARN FROM MICHELLE
Carla is a great girlfriend (as long as she isn't after your man!) Very loyal, she hasn't dropped any of her old friends since becoming first lady. Appointing herself as Michelle’s translator was quick way to get acquainted. Judging from their first "cozy chat" photo, Michelle seemed keen and was stretched forward whereas the coltish Carla initially looked a little stiff. If this relationship grows, Michelle could help with Carla’s public speaking. Although an entertaining interviewee, her first AIDS speech screamed "room for improvement."
6) MICHELLE “GETS IT”
Michelle’s gift of an acoustic Gibson guitar to the pop-singing Carla sent France’s radio into a furor. They described it as charming, hip, and assez amusant.
7) MICHELLE IS A LADY
A brief exchange with President Sarkozy made Michelle blush. That's appreciated too: that she’s accessible but capable of being taken aback.