Michelle Wows In U.K., Moves On To France

Finally, after having her every outfit and every gesture while she was in Britain compared to her French counterpart, Carla Bruni, the two first ladies finally met face-to-face on Friday morning, CBS News correspondent Mark Phillips reported from London.

And while their husbands will continue with discussions of state affairs, the meeting of the two women will be another basis for the inevitable comparison of their style and demeanor.

Tina Brown, editor in chief of Web site The Daily Beast, told Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith that the meeting this morning was a "high-voltage encounter between these two great ladies, an iconic moment," and that she feels the two women are very different.

"Carla Bruni is a very elegant, you know, Italian-born heiress, strums the guitar … quite a sort of cool cat in her own right," Brown said. "But Michelle is so authentic and so real and so today. …This is kind of a wonderful contrast."

The Obamas' time in England also provided plenty of opportunities for comparison. When Bruni met Queen Elizabeth II, she was proper, formal, and, some said, frosty. When Mrs. Obama met Her Majesty, there was that much-talked-about touching and the promise to "stay in touch."

Brown also added that she believes Bruni chose not to accompany her husband, French president Nicolas Sarkozy, to London for the G20 because she felt more comfortable meeting Michelle Obama in France.

"Now she's on her home territory, French-speaking and she feels a little more in control," she said. "She was smart. I think she understood she'd come off well in that Michelle moment."

That Bruni can command attention is undeniable, Phillips said, but Obama's meeting with British school children in London on Thursday was "inspiring."

Brown agrees that the time at the school went over well for the first lady.

"People were in tears," she told Smith. "With Michelle, you can almost feel those warm arms. You know, there's a kind of real red-blooded feel to her. She's almost overtaking Oprah, I think, as this real inspirational 'it' girl."

It also, she said, reminded the Brits of one of their own.

"I think she's getting a kind of almost Princess Di-like empathy going at this point," she said. "When she went to that school yesterday and you saw this tall figure bending down to embrace these kids, wearing those pearls, it was like, oh my God, it's Di time all over again."

The British also enjoyed the first lady's authenticity, Brown stated -- both in her personality and what she wore.

"For starts, she seems very exotic to them as this African-American, high-achieving, dynamic woman. That's not usual in English public life at all," she said. "But secondly, she looks like she pays for her own clothes. The Brits like that. … And the fact that Michelle, in this desperate economy, looks like she can afford the stuff she's wearing on her own back, it's very appealing."

All in all, she surmises, comparisons to Carla Bruni aside, Michelle Obama's trip to Europe is having a positive impact on her image.

"It takes going abroad, sometimes, to kind of refine your image back home. And she's gone up a whole notch on this trip."
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