The daughter of an Italian concert pianist and a classical music composer, Carla Bruni may have seemed destined for a career in music. However, nobody could have predicted the path which would take her through a career in modelling and singing to the role of France's First Lady.
She was born on December 1967 in Turin, the youngest of three children in a family which had built its wealth on tyre manufacturing. When she was five concern over the kidnapping threat then prevalent in Italy led the family to move to France. Carla remained in the country until she went to boarding school in Switzerland, returning as a teen to study in Paris.
Aged 19, the aspiring catwalk queen gave up her studies in art and architecture to pursue a career as a full-time model. It was a life-changing decision. Signed by a top agency, she was soon modelling in an ad campaign for Guess jeans. Lucrative high-profile contracts with major fashion houses and designers such as Christian Dior, Karl Lagerfeld, Chanel and Versace followed.
While she gave up further education for life on the runways, Carla\'s passion for the arts remained strong. "Even when I was having my hair and make-up done backstage at a fashion show, I would sneak in a copy of Dostoevsky and read it inside a copy of Elle
," she once admitted. With her modelling career came a jet-set lifestyle and Carla was soon splitting her time between New York, London, Paris and Milan, and dating a string of high-profile men, including rockers Mick Jagger and Eric Clapton, and entrepreneur Donald Trump.
By the end of the Nineties she was one of the world\'s highest-paid models, reportedly earning $7.5 million in 1998 alone. Success gave her the opportunity to turn her hand to her first love - music. At the time she was living with French writer Jean-Paul Enthoven with whose married philosopher son Raphael she had a baby, Aurélien, in 2001. Raphael and his wife later went their separate ways.
A year after giving birth to Aurélien Carla released her debut album Quelqu\'un m\'a dit
. It was an instant hit in France, and she followed it up in January 2007 with her second disc No Promises
- which helped take her music sales to over two million discs.
As her music career went from strength to strength, so did her personal life. In autumn 2007 she met French president Nicolas Sarkozy at an official gathering. And a few weeks after he divorced his second wife, the pair began dating. A whirlwind media-friendly romance followed with the pair making their union official in a private Paris ceremony at the Elysee Palace on February 2, 2008.