And fashion folk here are relishing the prospect of a model first lady, as speculation swirls a February wedding could be in the offing.
"It's very 'our times,'" said Karl Lagerfeld. "Carla is great: chic, modern, speaks many languages, perfectly educated, beautiful. I see only quality."
Sarkozy's office had no comment Monday on a report in the Journal du Dimanche citing Feb. 9 as the date for the couple's nuptials. The paper also said Bruni gave Sarkozy, a fan of luxury watches, a Patek Philippe as a promise gift in exchange for the ring.
The courtship between Sarkozy, who divorced his second wife, Cecilia, last fall after only several months in office, has attracted torrents of media coverage in France — with some pollsters citing the president's topsy-turvy private life as a factor explaining a recent dip in his approval ratings. Yet designers and other observers praised the pairing.
"I loved the Chiracs, but politics are like fashion: It's about change and there has to be a first lady in a place like the Elysée Palace. Why not such a beautiful one?" Lagerfeld asked. "In life, she is chic and modern the way she is."
"She would be the ideal first lady of France: She is like a heroine out of a novel, remarkable and wonderful," said Jean Paul Gaultier.
"I think the idea of having such a good-looking, stylish woman as France's first lady is brilliant," agreed designer Giambattista Valli. "It would also be amazing to see the French embrace a foreigner [in that role]."
"She's gorgeous, she has a great sense of style and she has her own mind. Every fashion industry worldwide could use someone like her as their country's first lady," added Robert Ferrell, director of Marilyn Agency, which has the Italian singer on its roster.