May 18, 2012 / 11:27 AM / 7 years ago

French minister shows up in jeans and causes sensation

Cecile Duflot, France's newly appointed Minister of Territorial Equality and Housing arrives to attend the first cabinet meeting of the new French government at the Elysee Palace in Paris May 17, 2012. REUTERS/ Jacky Naegelen

PARIS (Reuters) - France’s housing minister has caused a sensation by showing up in jeans while her colleagues donned dresses and suits for the new left-wing government’s inaugural cabinet meeting at the presidential Elysee Palace in Paris.

Cecile Duflot, 37-year-old head of the Greens ecology party, struck a lone figure in denims on Thursday when several of the 34 ministers spared no effort to look chic for the debut meeting with President Francois Hollande.

Less might have been said in public if Duflot had not been taken to task by a notoriously pugnacious right-wing adversary whose disparagement fired up debate on Twitter.

“Personally speaking, when you are a representative of the French people you have to distinguish between cabinet meeting clothes and weekend dilettante wear,” said Nadine Morano, who was a minister until the left took over this week.

Duflot, also the sole minister to arrive and leave by public transport, earned qualified support from former health minister Roselyne Bachelot, who issued a Twitter message saying:

“Frankly, if Duflot’s jeans are made in France she did well to wear them to the cabinet meeting.”

Hollande, who unseated conservative Nicolas Sarkozy in a May 6 vote, says he wants to be a “Mr Normal” leader after years of a more flashy style that rapidly won Sarkozy the name of “president bling bling”.

Neither he nor Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault waded into the Duflot dress code debate.

Reporting by Brian Love, Patrick Vignal and Chine Labbe Editing Maria Golovnina

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