Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Carla comes to Britain

Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, the first lady of France, has been appointed by Gordon Brown to spearhead a government initiative aimed at injecting more style and glamour into British national life, the Guardian has learned.

Moving rapidly to capitalise on the national explosion of Carlamania, which saw Bruni-Sarkozy heralded as a new Princess Diana during the French state visit to the UK last week, Brown will formally announce the latest addition to his "government of all the talents" in a speech tomorrow at the Institut Fran├žais in South Kensington, London.

For too long, he will say, Britain has suffered an inferiority complex with regard to mainland European countries such as France and Italy, whose citizens are seen as effortlessly stylish and sophisticated.

"I want a Britain, now and in the future, where good taste and sophistication are the birthright of the many, not the privilege of an elite, whether in fashion, in food and drink, or in cultural pursuits," Brown will say. To launch the scheme, the Italian-born Bruni-Sarkozy, 40, will relocate to London for three months, starting in June, according to one Brown aide. She is expected to commute back to Paris via Eurostar for French state engagements involving her husband, President Nicolas Sarkozy.

. . .

She is understood already to have spoken to the chief executive of Marks & Spencer, Stuart Rose, to discuss the launch of an affordable range of high-street designs inspired by the demure tailored grey suits that won her so much acclaim during last week's visit. They were created for Dior by the British designer John Galliano, who has signed up as a supporter of Brown's plan. The M&S versions will be roomier, and may incorporate several more practical features, such as zip-up pockets and mobile phone holders.She is understood already to have spoken to the chief executive of Marks & Spencer, Stuart Rose, to discuss the launch of an affordable range of high-street designs inspired by the demure tailored grey suits that won her so much acclaim during last week's visit. They were created for Dior by the British designer John Galliano, who has signed up as a supporter of Brown's plan. The M&S versions will be roomier, and may incorporate several more practical features, such as zip-up pockets and mobile phone holders.


and there's more, by the Guardian's new style and politics correspondent, Avril de Poisson


Spot the difference

From Badaude


The 6.30am London-Paris Eurostar last Monday must have been the chic-est train of the week. As it was Paris fashion week, it may well have been the chic-est train of the year.

I notice it immediately. The groups of powerful-looking older women in black coats, big scarves and bags with plenty of hardware; buckles, bag-charms, chain handles. I even see a reasonably heavy-looking padlock. (OK. I'm not stupid. I know these hang outside bags. But why is she carrying one inside?)

Each group is attended by one or two unnaturally fashionable, very young men. They run along the platform as the train's about to leave, trailing flying accessories.

So what is the famous difference between French and British fashion players? Let's play the game of, 'Is she British? Is she French?'.

Ok. The French are wearing trousers; the Brits are wearing skirts. Their skirts are mostly knee-length and flare out a bit at the bottom. The French trousers are uniformly black. The Brits are wearing colour; the French won't touch it: strictly black, grey and cream. One crucial difference: British pashminas are bigger, MUCH BIGGER, I mean SO MUCH BIGGER than the French equivalent. They're so big that, if bounced from their hotel booking, I think the Brits could camp under them. The French compensate for this by adding odd rows of little bobbles, crinkled textures and embroidery to theirs (so long as they're in a neutral tone). Oh - and the British tend to wear novelty knitted and felted hats. Cute, huh?

That said, the Brit look is fantastically difficult to carry off - and some of them are even managing it.

What did you do in the war, Grandma?


'I was told I wasn't leadership material, dear.'

Thought for the day


Many there are, who seem to slight all care
And with a pleasing negligence ensnare;
Whole mornings oft, in such a dress are spent,
And all is art, that looks like accident.

Ovid