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Carla Bruni Ups the Ante for Models Worldwide

Yeah, you’d be glowing tooPhoto: Getty Images

At first it was strange watching ex-supermodel Carla Bruni snog her way through state visits to the U.K. with her fancy French-president hubby. For an American parallel, imagine if Barack Obama won the election in November, immediately fell for Janice Dickinson, and brought her to a peace summit. (At least three dignitaries would leave with intimate knowledge of the contours of Janice’s thong, for starters.) Granted, Carla Bruni is not a Janice-caliber nutjob, but her light-speed ascent to First Lady and media darling — plus the sight of her rubbing shoulders with the Queen — must have sent the rest of her generation’s supermodels into a serious midlife crisis. The career bar has officially been raised.

Back in the day, the ceiling for a model’s continued notoriety after 30 involved dating stringy, spiky-haired, rockers. Paulina Porizkova took up with Ric Ocasek, Rachel Hunter married Rod Stewart, Christie Brinkley shacked up with wee Billy Joel, and for almost everyone — including Janice and Carla — Mick Jagger was a rite of passage. The idea that one of them would end up being the First Lady of anywhere felt as likely as Donald Trump releasing a book called It Was Really Nothing: How Quiet Humility Can Work for You.

Although Cindy, Christy and Naomi still occasionally model, the only catwalk trawlers who even approach Bruni’s recent vault up the visibility ladder are ones who’ve become reality-show stars: Heidi Klum, and especially Tyra Banks. They endured by finding a platform for mingling with Real People, hawking alleged expertise while also — at least in Tyra’s case — making them cry about their feelings.

But while Tyra and Heidi rule our TiVos with well-manicured iron fists, Bruni may now trump them all in the World Domination Stakes. Nothing transcends being a model-musician with erotic skeletons in your closet like becoming a graceful First Lady sipping tea at the right hand of Queen Elizabeth II in a delicious pillbox hat. Tyra Banks may aim to be a media powerhouse, but no matter how many fat suits she wears or fears of dolphins she conquers, her epitaph will read, “Here lies the woman who taught us that the difference between actresses and models has … something … to do with elongating their necks.” Carla Bruni, First Lady of France, however, has effectively wiped the word “model” off her headstone altogether.

From a girl-power perspective, it’s not exactly fair — frankly, we’d rather Tyra’s driven if occasionally smug blood, sweat, and tears came out ahead in the race, if only because she’s worked hard to get where she is. But if Jessica Stam decides to rush out and marry Vladimir Putin next month, we’ll know why. And honestly? She’d have our blessing. —The Fug Girls

Carla Bruni Ups the Ante for Models Worldwide