Sensitive singer, magnetic supermodel and committed ex-first lady, Carla Bruni leads several lives, all of them intense. This style icon, friend of the Bulgari house, opens the doors of her villa on Cap Nègre to us for an exclusive encounter. Natural in the incandescence, she confided, quite simply.
May 2022. The Cannes Film Festival ends. About a hundred kilometers away, at Cap Nègre, in the Massif des Maures, Carla Bruni has agreed to open the doors of the family villa to us, an ultra-protected sanctuary, proud and superb bastide hidden in the maritime pines, perched on a rocky outcrop. and dominating a deep blue Mediterranean. A movie set, an air of Italy in this house where nothing has changed since the 1940s, a wish of Virginio, the beloved brother who died.
It’s a living house, with books and toys. At the water’s edge, we meet Valeria, her director sister, in a bathing suit, dripping – she swam -, Marisa, the mother, crosses the imposing living room in hotel slippers, Aunt Gigi takes the fresh air at the edge from the bean-shaped swimming pool, Nicolas Sarkozy gives a friendly greeting, and Giulia, their adorable little girl, inspects the racks of clothes and the Bulgari jewels that her mother is going to choose to pose in front of the lens of photographer Anton Corbijn. As always, Carla Bruni is in an exquisite mood. Elegance personified. Warm, considerate, she gives a taste of her wine – the Roseblood from Château d’Estoublon, which also produces a racy olive oil, and of which she is the co-owner –, puts Bob Dylan on the turntable, and shows us around this almost unfussy house. history which, under the Sarkozy presidency, saw heads of state and international artists parade.
In video, Cannes 2022: interview with Carla Bruni
Carla Bruni, ex-megamodel who caused a sensation last year on the Balmain catwalk, ex-first lady more than perfect, is today a singer who counts and an inspired songwriter: her album Someone told me (whose title song is a classic) turns 20 this year. It is pointed out to him that his life is a millefeuille of a thousand lives which would make an excellent series on Netflix: “It would be cool and absurd”, she laughs. Interview.
Miss Figaro. – What does this house on Cap Nègre, which you are opening exceptionally for us, evoke for you?
Carla Bruni. – It completely exceeds the lives that take place there. The strength of this house, which was built around 1934, is that it faces the wind, in the sky, the sea and the trees. It’s like a boat that has to withstand the weather. It evokes my childhood, my youth, and now my old age. (She laughs.) My parents were looking for a house in the south of France, they visited it in 1958. At the time, they were still living in Turin, there was no motorway, they must have taken about fifteen hours to get there, it discouraged them. My mom went back and convinced my dad to buy it. At the time, none of us had been born yet. We went there every summer, driving from Turin, at the beginning of July, until September, when we went back to school in Italy.
Carla Bruni, the Cover Story
The house has not moved since the 1940s. There floats a delicious vintage scent of Italian jet-set…
I remember my parents dressing up to “take the vermouth.” The gentlemen in jackets, the very elegant ladies. My mother kept all the clothes from that time, marvelous pieces made to measure by a seamstress from Turin. There is, for example, an extraordinary long skirt and little bustier: you leave them in the sun during the day and in the evening, they are fluorescent! It’s a time that seems blessed, the Glorious Thirties, everything seemed possible. We had been to the moon, we believed in science, and the Concorde was flying all the way to Rio. There was something in the air. Life seemed carefree, even though my parents, like everyone else, experienced tragedy.
How did you find your place in a family with strong personalities?
My mother, my father, my brother and my sister, of course, each had a marked personality. I also have a younger half-sister, Consuelo, my biological father’s daughter, I’m very close to her, even though we didn’t grow up together. As I was the last, I was free as the air. The real particularity of my family is its freedom. It was not a “proper” family. My parents never thought of themselves as important people, I never saw them place themselves in any particular social position, even though they led an incredible life – the 1950s were unheard of when we were privileged. In fact, they were artists. My mother has a great temperament, a great presence, a great beauty. And my sister: a hurricane. She is more than beautiful: she is irresistible. Besides, the people who are in love with her are bound hand and foot to her. Valeria does not support any social convention. I am much more contained. There is great pleasure in being all together: we talk to each other, we argue, we laugh a lot. There isn’t much repressed.
However, there was a family secret. Your father was not your biological father…
There was a lie. I always thought there was a mystery surrounding my birth – but a lot of kids who like to daydream are like that. My parents carried this lie very well: they don’t have guilty temperaments. It wasn’t said because it wasn’t done at the time: those were other years. In retrospect, the discovery of this lie was not such a big shock: it almost relieved me by reassuring me that there was something. I questioned my mother a lot – the Stasi! – and I wanted to meet this father right away. He was 18 when I was born. My mother, 40, and my father, the one whose name I carry, 55. That’s the story. I had three parents. I laugh a lot when homoparental families are blamed: a family is a family, parents are parents.
All this environment makes you a free woman in the noblest sense of the term: you go beyond conventions…
It’s really a family story: my parents were like that. And my sister is demented: she adapts situations to herself when I adapt to situations. I am transgressive but absolutely not provocative, even if I hate puritanism, morality and judgement. But I don’t like trouble: there is enough of it naturally. I always remain cautious.
All of this has made you an absolutely flawless first lady…
There, we are talking about something else, something extremely serious, a role that has been a pleasure and an honor. There was no question of even considering a step aside. There was the representation and also, the other side, the philanthropy which was fascinating. I met wonderful people, most often anonymous people, but also very well-known people. It has been five fantastic years, a very real and very special moment, an extraordinary moment with an extraordinary man, even if I was happy to leave and return to a quieter life, more peaceful for him too…
Have you changed Nicolas Sarkozy?
What changed him was being elected. To have had this great honor. And that’s probably what allowed him to go to someone like me, someone who, unlike his previous wife, did not participate in politics. I don’t like politics or, more exactly, I wouldn’t be able to do it.
I was not emotionally accomplished at all. I was refractory to the commitment, on principle
Was the marriage an accomplishment?
Getting married was important. I was not emotionally accomplished at all. I was refractory to the commitment, on principle. Maybe it is related to my birth? I did long analyzes that changed my life: today, I only blame myself. Psychoanalysis has this good thing that we stop confusing what comes from oneself and what comes from others. In a Woody Allen film, a character has this line that I love: “Before my therapy, I wet the bed and I was ashamed. After fifteen years of therapy, I still wet the bed but I’m proud of it. I don’t know if I’m a better person, but I’m more functional.
You caused a sensation by parading last year for Balmain. What did you feel ?
I was destabilized. In fact, I consider that it is no longer my age. I’m the youngest in my family, and it’s very strange to think that I’m old enough to be the mother of all the other models. And, at the same time, fashion remains a family: I love designers, girls, hairdressers, make-up artists, photographers…
What is your relationship with beauty?
I don’t have a particular relationship with beauty, neither that which is attributed to me, nor that of others. She interests me, sublime beauty can fascinate me in Ava Gardner, Monica Vitti or Romy Schneider, but I prefer grace and charm. Besides, I’ve never been drawn to pure beauty. I have a figure and a style, maybe, but I make endless efforts to stay slim: two hours of sport a day, the bar, the elliptical, a little Pilates. Beauty is also a constraint: “One hour, one hour only, beautiful and stupid at the same time!”, as Brel sang. (She laughs.)
Is beauty a weapon?
For a long time I was ungrateful, straight and thin, I had the feeling of being invisible. I became a young girl late, at 17. Suddenly, I had a body and I could see that people looked at me differently at the beach. What did I feel then? The pleasure of seduction. My uncle always said to me: “You really grew up like an ugly girl! The trouble you go to to please yourself!” I’m not that interested in myself, but I like to please. To please, to seduce, without any sexual objective, to please people. Pleasing is much more interesting than being beautiful. Besides, beauty doesn’t hold up to age, it’s dreadful! I see it well. We are less resistant, whereas it should be the opposite. As Mae West said, getting old is not for wimps…
You posted on Instagram a photo of your daughter – from the back – trying on your clothes. What do you want to pass on to him?
I believe more in example than in transmission. If we behave well, we should normally have children who behave well. My two favorite qualities are kindness and generosity. I’m a mother hen, but I don’t want to control my two children, even if I couldn’t stand them being disagreeable or haughty. I was raised very freely and that was a good thing, even though my parents weren’t around much and I missed them. I compensate by being very close to my children, I am as present as I can. I am there to accompany them and make them stronger.
Looks like you’re living your best years.
I touch wood. Scaramanziaas we say in Italy…
Last album: Carla Bruni (Barclay).