Monday 26 June 2017

5 things to know about Brigitte Macron - France's unconventional First Lady

Wife of Emmanuel Macron, Brigitte Trogneux leaves the polling station of the the town hall after casting their vote in the second round of the French presidential elections on May 07 2017
Wife of Emmanuel Macron, Brigitte Trogneux leaves the polling station of the the town hall after casting their vote in the second round of the French presidential elections on May 07 2017
Brigitte Trogneux (C) and her daughters Tiphaine Auziere (R) and Laurence Auziere-Jourdan (L). (Photo: ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images)
The Jean Trogneux chocolate shop in Amiens, owned by the family of Brigitte Trogneux, (Photo: DENIS CHARLET/AFP/Getty Images)
French president-elect Emmanuel Macron (L) waves to the crowd next to his wife Brigitte Trogneux in front of the Pyramid at the Louvre Museum in Paris
Brigitte Trogneux-Macron, Emmanuel Macron's wife, and her daughters Thyphaine (L) and Laurence (R). (Photo by Sylvain Lefevre/Getty Images)
French presidential election candidate for the En Marche movement Emmanuel Macron (R) and his wife Brigitte Trogneux who is 25 years his senior
French President-elect Emmanuel Macron holds hands with his wife Brigitte during a victory celebration outside the Louvre museum in Paris, France (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Sasha Brady

Much has been made of the marriage between the newly elected French president, Emmanuel Macron, and his wife Brigitte Trogneux. But as she prepares to break new ground in her latest role, we look at the past that shaped France's glamorous First Lady and what the future holds for the Macrons.

Relationship

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Former French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte applaud a speech during a meeting of his political movement, 'En Marche' (On the Move), on October 11, 2016 in Le Mans, northwestern France. / AFP / JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER (Photo credit should read JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP/Getty Images)
 

Emmanuel (39) and Brigitte (64) met when he was a 15-year-old pupil and she a 40-year-old drama teacher running his school's theatre club. Her middle daughter was in the same class as Emmanuel. As a pupil, he claimed he knew he would marry her.

"At the age of 17, Emmanuel said to me, 'Whatever you do, I will marry you!'," she told Paris Match magazine last year.

In a TV documentary, she revealed he was determined to woo her and she didn't think of him as a teenager, describing him as having a "relationship of equals with other adults".

"Little by little, he overcame all my resistances in an unbelievable way, with patience," she said. "He wasn't a teenager. He had a relationship of equals with other adults."

More than ten years after meeting, she divorced her husband and she and Emmanuel married.

Family

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The Jean Trogneux chocolate shop in Amiens, owned by the family of Brigitte Trogneux, (Photo: DENIS CHARLET/AFP/Getty Images)
 

Brigitte, known as 'Bibi', was born in the northern French city of Amiens in the Somme. She's the daughter of a bourgeois family of chocolatiers and is the youngest of six children.

She has three children and seven grandchildren from her first marriage. While Brigitte and Emmanuel have no children together, the French president says his wife's children and grandchildren are family.

She initially faced disapproval from her older siblings when she decided to leave her first husband, Andre-Louis Auzière. She said her family later fully backed her relationship with Macron.

At their wedding in 2007 he made a speech thanking Brigitte's family and children for standing by them. He said they were not a "normal couple - even if I don't like that word - but we're a couple that exists."

Career

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French President-elect Emmanuel Macron holds hands with his wife Brigitte during a victory celebration outside the Louvre museum in Paris, France (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
 

She was a French literature and Latin teacher, as well as a drama coach, and worked at exclusive Jesuit schools in France.

Brigitte first appeared on the public scene when her husband was appointed economy minister in the Socialist government in 2014 and has been a prominent supporter of her husband's campaign who helped him with his speeches.

She quit her teaching job in 2015, saying she wanted to support his career. He told journalists: "Her views matter to me" and suggested that her presence beside him wasn't up for debate. "One can't work when one's not happy," he said.

Fashion

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Emmanuel Macron (L) and his wife Brigitte Trogneux. (Photo: PATRICK KOVARIK/AFP/Getty Images)
 

While her main interests are literature and education, Brigitte is a regular fixture on the Paris fashion scene. Since stepping into the public eye, she has been garnering attention for her impeccable campaign wardrobe, which included new season Louis Vuitton and Dior.

You're just as likely to see her in a pair of skintight leather trousers and stilettos, as you would a shift dress and tailored blazer.

French magazines describe her style as "modern" and praise her "cool attitude” and “wonderwoman” look. Vogue magazine described as her “chic-bobo aesthetic”.

Delphine de Canecaude, a Paris-based art director, told L’Express magazine: “She’s rock’n’roll. Not for a second does she say, ‘I’m 63, so I cannot wear short skirts.’ Twelve-inch heels, sleeveless dresses, leather trousers, she dares everything. She is a mega wonder woman.”

First Lady duties

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In a speech last week, Emmanuel promised that Brigitte “won’t be paid by the taxpayer”, but he said that as president, “the person who lives with you must have a role”.

It's not clear what her role will be yet but she has said that as first lady, she will continue to focus on young people.

Brigitte has also made it clear that she will continue to be her husband's biggest champion.

“I’ve been involved in everything at his side for 20 years," she said at a campaign speech. "You always seem surprised that spouses are beside their husbands. It’s time for things to evolve. That’s where we belong."

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