Singer/songwriter and former supermodel/first lady of France Carla Bruni-Sarkozy shares her favorite moments of being Bulgari's brand ambassador, why she prefers receiving jewelry rather than buying it for herself, and what music means to her.
Carla Bruni in LOVE's PARADISE high Jewelry necklace in white gold with cushion shaped sapphire and diamonds from Giardini Italiani Collection.
No stranger to glitz and glamour, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy has had a love affair with jewelry since her childhood in Italy. So it only makes sense that the model-turned-songwriter returned to the fashion scene in full force in 2013 as the international brand ambassador for high-end jeweler Bulgari.
We sat down with Bruni-Sarkozy shortly after the reveal of the storied jeweler's latest collection, Italian Gardens, which pays homage to the beauty of Italy's lush landscape, to hear about her favorite behind-the-scenes moment as the brand's spokesperson, why she doesn't buy jewelry for herself, and what music means to her.
What has been your most memorable moment as brand ambassador for Bulgari? CARLA BRUNI-SARKOZY: One day, we had a lovely evening in Paris at Apicius, where Bulgari was organizing a nice event with a dinner and a show, and two very shy people came up to me: a young man, maybe 32, and a young woman, maybe 25. They were the people who create and make the jewelry. They came up to me and said, 'We just wanted to let you know how happy we are that you are wearing the jewelry. It took us six months to make this tiny, little piece of thing from the design, and the jewels are like our children.' This kind of creation is not very common in our world. It is coming from the past, but it is using all the modern technologies as well. It's still very much as it was in the '60s, '50s, and '40s, and seeing very young people doing such a job really pleased me. They were moved just by seeing the piece on my neck. That was a very nice moment. Of course, it's a backstage moment, but it was a nice moment because I could see how happy and proud they were of their own work. I hope within 100 years this type of creation will remain.
You've said in past interviews that an item of jewelry is not like anything else that you buy. Could you explain that? CB: It can be given to you—most of the time it's given to you—sometimes by your mother or your grandmother, your sister, someone in your family who wants to give you some legacy. It can be given by a man; by a lover. The wedding ring is a jewel. Many, many things are symbolic. It's like perfume, it carries a lot of memories. It's not only a luxurious item that one can buy; it's much more than that. It's always related to special moments of life, I believe.
Throughout your life, which pieces of jewelry have meant the most to you? CBS: I remember my mother, when she was going out when I was little in the '60s and '70s—people used to get very dressed [up] at the time. My mother, even in the summertime, would wear, I wouldn't say a long evening dress, but she would wear a dress for the evening. So I remember her coming and saying goodnight to me, and I remember the beautiful, incredibly beautiful jewelry that she still has. She doesn't wear it so much anymore. One of the most tender memories of my childhood would be my mother with some beautiful earrings and a beautiful ring bending down to kiss me goodnight.
As a successful and accomplished woman, do you buy your own jewelry? CBS: My husband buys me jewelry, and I must say, I really like the fact that he's giving me something. He buys me very lovely jewelry, but sometimes I wonder, he could give me a plastic bracelet. How nice is it to get a present from someone you love? I got a little jewelry from my mother, but most of the jewelry I got from my husband. I have old pieces that, as I said, my mother gave me that I really, really like. Jewelry is a romantic gift, definitely, even when it's coming from your mother.
Tell us a little bit more about the Carla Bruni-Sarkozy Foundation. Where is it helping children, and tell us some plans for the future? CBS: We're trying to bring culture and education to places where there is a lack. Sometimes it's deserted places in France in the middle of the countryside, sometimes it's hospitals. We were having a wonderful program in a hospital, which is called School at the Hospital, for very ill children. We were financing this and giving them money because they help children continue [education], which is important, especially for children who are [battling] terrible diseases. We also have a program called Music for Everyone, [where] we were playing in hospitals, in prisons, in places where music is needed because people are isolated for whatever reason. I remember Brigitte Engerer, who died and was one of the most beautiful French pianists, playing at the Pitié-Salpétrière [hospital]. I remember the real emotion and the pleasure from the people who were ill, certainly, but they still have a soul. I know my foundation wasn't taking care of finding medicines or finding food, it was taking care of the other stuff. No matter what the situation is—it can be in poverty, it can be in disease—we still need culture, music, and education.