PARIS — The world’s political wives could soon be getting a model to follow — literally. Former mannequin and now songstress Carla Bruni is said to have a Christian Dior gem on her finger that may or may not be an engagement ring from French President Nicholas Sarkozy.

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.

This story first appeared in the January 8, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Observers noted that Bruni’s chic and laid-back style matches Sarkozy’s penchant for casualwear. And no one thinks she’ll need style pointers if she indeed arrives on the political stage.

“Carla knows the fashion world. She is a free spirit with her own style,” Lagerfeld said, adding that all she has to do is “reinvent that look — it will be great for the image of France.”

Valli said Bruni offers a nice balance “between Italian and French attitudes. She’s sometimes a top model, and sometimes has more of an artistic look. I sense a nice lightness about her. She has long legs and a short bust, so if I were to dress her, I would choose to emphasize that kind of silhouette.”

One of the highest paid faces of the supermodel Nineties, Bruni wrapped up that career 10 years ago to pursue a music career, releasing her first French-language acoustic album, “Quelqu’un m’a dit,” or “Someone Told Me,” in 2002. Her second album, “No Promises,” was released last spring. While she has never married, Bruni has been linked romantically to the likes of Mick Jagger, Donald Trump and Eric Clapton.

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