Carla Bruni’s Life in Looks Is a Fascinating Journey Through Fashion History

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Few models have had as rich and varied a life as the legendary supermodel Carla Bruni. From her early days walking the Paris runways in the 1990s, to her second career as a chart-topping folk singer, to her marriage to Nicolas Sarkozy in 2008 which saw her become the first lady of France, Bruni has made her mark in the world of fashion and far beyond. (Most recently, Bruni’s sixth, self-titled album—a romantic, multilingual ode to the slower pace of life she’s enjoyed since leaving the Élysée Palace—has seen her shoot up the French music charts yet again.) But as becomes obvious in her new “Life in Looks” video for Vogue, shot at Le Bristol hotel in Paris, what has made Bruni one of the most alluring and fascinating models of her generation—apart from her timeless beauty, of course—is her deep respect for both the creativity and the craftsmanship of fashion. 

To cast your eye over Bruni’s looks across the decades is to witness the slow unfolding of fashion history. An early image shows her first appearance on the Chanel runway in 1988, where she fondly remembers Karl Lagerfeld’s tardiness to the show, and recalls how she wondered, after his passing last year, whether he was really gone or if he might “just show up” at any moment. Bruni also pays tribute to her friend Gianni Versace upon seeing a photo of herself and Naomi Campbell sitting next to him at a 1992 gala dinner, noting that he was “sort of like a father to all of us.” Next, an image of Bruni in the closing bridal look at Hubert de Givenchy’s spring 1994 couture show prompts her memory of de Givenchy as “such an incredible designer, but also such a gentleman.”

As Bruni moves into the 1990s, there’s a perfectly of-the-moment sheer, minimalist Prada dress she wears in a fitting as Miuccia Prada herself adjusts the hem—“she’s a very delicate, laid-back person,” Bruni notes—before we move into Bruni’s second career as a musician, beginning with the stripped-back cover for her debut album Quelqu’un m’a dit in 2002. “I had such a strong image coming from modeling that I had to try and cut it off,” Bruni says. “I had to show a side of myself that had nothing to do with makeup and looking glamorous, to help people understand that I was a songwriter and not a model anymore.”

Still, there are plenty of fabulous fashion moments to follow—no more so than Bruni’s appearance on the Versace catwalk for the spring 2018 show, which famously saw five of the greatest supermodels reunite to pay tribute to Gianni Versace on the 20th anniversary of his death. More recent red carpet appearances include Bruni wearing her new favorite label, Hedi Slimane’s Celine. “Red carpets are a very special moment, I don’t do them often, but when I do it, it’s quite fun,” she says of her Celine look at last year’s Cannes Film Festival. 

Bruni traces her love for Slimane’s work all the way back to his tailoring at Dior Men, and describes his precision and simplicity as the reason why she also chose to wear his designs on her latest album cover. “In my real life, I’m basically always very unsophisticated,” says Bruni, a statement that seems hard to believe. “I believe it’s complicated to make a simple image.”

Above, watch Bruni’s “Life in Looks” video in full. 

Director: Rom Bokobza

DP: Etienne Baussan

Producer: Naomi Nishi

Editor: Marcus Niehaus

Gaffer: Franck Onouviet

Sound: Lucas Rollin

Set Design: Samirha Salmi 

Location: Le Bristol Paris, Oetker Collection filmed in a Paris Suite