As it happened, though, Bruni turned out an exemplary First Lady, employing her good humour and the graces of her education to wow Britain (especially Prince Philip, so they say) on her first state visit in 2008, then throwing herself into philanthropic endeavours, among them an educational foundation, all the while continuing a respected career in music. In 2011, while Sarkozy was still president, Bruni gave birth to her second child, a girl named Giulia. At 43, she hadn’t expected to become a mother again. "Having a daughter changed everything,’ she says, her clear blue eyes lighting up as she stubs out a cigarette. 'I was not [at] an age where you have children, so it was like a miracle. My husband and I have four boys, basically a small football team, but now I have another girl around the house and it’s fantastic." Despite Giulia growing up in the full glare of the media, Bruni, who also became a step-grandmother six years ago when Sarkozy’s eldest, Jean, had a son, has no fears for her daughter’s independence. "Maybe it’s because I’m a woman, and I know her strength as I know my strength,’ she says. 'But for some reason I always thought that men were much more fragile, so I get more worried for Aurélien, who is 14, than for my daughter, who is four. You have to always protect them, of course." Protect them from what? "From life! From death. From sorrow. From humiliation. From despair. From depression. You have to give them a good life; you hope they’ll have a good life," she splutters.
Four years after moving out of the Elysée, Bruni’s life is again in a state of happy flux. She will continue as the face of Bulgari, helping to preserve what she calls its 'preciously made, classically modern pieces’. "This sort of work may not exist in 50 years," she warns. "One day these jewels could end up in museums.’ There are also constant charity commitments, and her sixth studio album is nearing completion. The release of that record and all other plans, however, may yet be put on hold if Sarkozy makes good on rumours he’ll run for a second term as president in next year’s general election. "I’ll see what my husband does with all this political thing,’ she says, slapping the question away with a nonchalant wave. "I just want to play my music in front of people, but I also like the quiet family life. It’s the complete end of freedom [when you have children], but it’s so nice. You get something else instead." Upheaval and reinvention, though, have never appeared to bother Carla Bruni. In fact, I think she rather likes them. "I passed from one country to another when I was seven, then I changed fathers when I was 28. When I was 30 I changed my career, then I had a child – the biggest change of all – then I got married while my husband was the president. I’m used to change, but it doesn’t affect the bottom of my life, just the surface," she says, throwing her hands up. "Visually it may appear completely different, but inside it’s the same me. I’m always the same person."
Bruni- Sarkozy as the face of Bulgari
2016 JULY / AUGUST