What does Lancôme represent for you personally and what values do you share with the brand?
Lancôme epitomises French beauty: it is a brand of great emotion and intuition that embodies truly natural femininity.
Why did you choose Lancôme to partner this program? Is it because Lancôme embodies French beauty across the globe?
Lancôme’s history is inextricably linked to fashion, cosmetics and elegance in France through the ages, making the brand the perfect partner for a program designed to show young people in difficulty that pursuing a career in the arts really is possible, and that art and culture offer a wealth of future possibilities and job opportunities in exciting professions.
The Foundation is delighted with this partnership. In France, philanthropy is too often left to charity associations, and very rarely addressed by the business world. We still have much to learn in this area, from the United States in particular, and Lancôme is leading the way for a new approach to solidarity.
What practical objectives have you set for the Lancôme Revelations program and what role does this program play within the Carla Bruni-Sarkozy Foundation?
The Lancôme Revelations program will give disadvantaged students access to the best artistic and cultural training available in higher education. I believe it is a great injustice that art schools are often reserved exclusively for the privileged, notably the Parisian elite. There is raw talent all around us but, without support and guidance, young people from underprivileged backgrounds often fall victim to self-censorship, telling themselves “it’s not for me anyway”.
In concrete terms, we offer personalised guidance and support for students in their final year of high school in France, giving them every chance to gain entry to art foundation classes, applied art schools or arts and crafts courses.
The program extends to several high schools spread across France, and these establishments will receive visits from experts, artists and artisans to talk about their profession and offer personal guidance for students. If even a handful of the hundreds of young people involved in this program discover their artistic calling, or see new doors open that they had previously never considered, we will consider it a true success.
How do you think artistic professions can provide promising future prospects for these underprivileged young people?
The artistic professions are particularly demanding: they require both talent and technique. Young people from underprivileged backgrounds have a wealth of talent to offer, and the guidance program is designed to provide them with the means and opportunity to express and fine-tune this talent. The true potential of every student is explored, guided and nurtured. It is all about equal opportunities; the same hope for everyone, but more than that – personal development and fulfilment.
Pursuing a career in the arts also provides a path into the professional world and presents a range of job opportunities. Working in arts and crafts as a restorer, jeweller or fashion designer; working behind the scenes in the world of entertainment as a stage manager or photographer; or becoming an interior or fashion designer … these are all highly technical professions which need to be studied and perfected.
Careers in the arts are not often prioritised, but in reality they play a central role in French excellence.
How will you personally support the Lancôme Revelations program?
The high schools are spread across France and, although unfortunately I won’t be able to visit each of them personally, we are determined to find a way to come together. This program is a long-term commitment: the Lancôme Revelations students who go on to study at top schools of art and culture will become next year’s Foundation scholars.
In September 2009, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, an ambassador for the Geneva-based Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, addressed a UN General Assembly event. Bruni-Sarkosy, whose brother Virginio died of an AIDS-related illness in 2006, spoke of her visit to Burkina Faso where she witnessed the ravaging effects of the virus on children. Her hope is that world leaders will prioritise the threat of AIDS and aim to eliminate mother-to-child HIV transmission by 2015.
After a successful career as a model in the 1990s Carla Bruni-Sarkozy turned to music, releasing two albums: Quelqu’un m’a dit and No Promises. In 2009 she made her US stage debut performing at a concert in New York to commemorate Nelson Mandela’s 91st birthday. Sharing the stage with Eurythmics musician Dave Stewart she performed a duet of Bob Dylan’s Blowin’ in the Wind in homage to the elder statesman of social activism.
FIRST LADY FASHION ICON
Carla Bruni-Sarkozy’s marriage to French President Nicolas Sarkozy catapulted her onto the global political stage. Hailed as a contemporary fashion icon by the press, she has been compared to Jackie Kennedy and made the Vanity Fair Best Dressed list alongside Michelle Obama.