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Home » Macron, Le Grand Narcissist: From Putin-Style Topless Holiday Shots To Raging Bull Gym Workouts And Arty Black And White Poses, How French President Uses His Preening Photo Shoots To Shape His Macho Image

Macron, Le Grand Narcissist: From Putin-Style Topless Holiday Shots To Raging Bull Gym Workouts And Arty Black And White Poses, How French President Uses His Preening Photo Shoots To Shape His Macho Image

In the age of social media where every flex and flicker is meticulously curated, Emmanuel Macron appears committed to perfecting the art of visual rhetoric. 

His personal photographer Soazing de la Moissonnière caused quite a stir in France earlier this week when he released two images depicting the French President pounding a punchbag.

With his face a picture of steely resolve as chiselled biceps rippled from beneath his shirt, the black-and-white shots of Macron were received as a display of ‘ultimate virility’ according to French newspaper Nice-Matin. 

Many posited that the projection of machismo and strength comes as part of a PR offensive as the French President takes a harder stance on the Russia-Ukraine war, with Macron having paused longstanding efforts to maintain a closer bond with his counterpart in Moscow Vladimir Putin. 

But in reality, Macron’s pugilistic photo-op is just the latest in a years-long campaign of staged shoots designed to portray the Elysee Palace chief as a dashing, capable and admirable representative of France and her interests. 

It’s a self-aggrandising PR play that appears to have been ripped directly from the playbook of Putin himself – perhaps the world leader most adept at deploying the power of persona to cultivate domestic support.

Now, MailOnline takes a look at some of Macron’s most narcissistic snaps, distributed by his personal lensman and army of press officers, and how they’re harnessed to cultivate his image in the eyes of the French public. 

In an age of social media where every flex and flicker is meticulously curated, Emmanuel Macron appears committed to perfecting the art of visual rhetoric

Macron’s personal photographer Soazing de la Moissonnière caused quite a stir in France earlier this week when he released two images depicting the French President pounding a punchbag

French media relations expert Gaspard Gantzer said his president wants to show that ‘he wants to fight’

Macron’s pugilistic photo-op is just the latest in a years-long campaign of staged shoots designed to portray the Elysee Palace chief as a dashing, capable and admirable representative of France

But Macron’s PR drive seeks to portray the Head of State as the complete package

Macron pets a dog as he sits at his desk in the Elysee Palace

An image of Macron wearing a drab hoody emerged in the days following the outbreak of war in Ukraine, leading many to suggest the French President was modelling his looks on the then-lauded Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Zelensky

French President Emmanuel Macron (C) poses with members of the public for a selfie after a ceremony to seal the right to abortion in the French constitution, on International Women’s Day, at the Place Vendome, in Paris, on March 8, 2024

The Russian President has for more than two decades harnessed the influence of his state-controlled media empire to create a personality cult, displaying himself as a fit and strong man-in-charge. 

Images of Judo black-belt Putin effortlessly tossing martial arts experts over his shoulder, galloping bare-chested on horseback and plunging stone-faced into icy lakes were routinely plastered on billboards and beamed into the living rooms of every Russian citizen.

Speaking on the images of Macron pummelling the heavy bag in the boxing gym, French media relations expert Gaspard Gantzer said his president wants to show ‘he is a Frenchman like any other… that he is in great physical shape… that he wants to fight.’ 

Women’s magazine Femme Actuelle also piled in, commenting that the photos showed ‘a determined look, as if he wants to do battle with his opponent… He seems to hit so hard that his biceps pop out from under his black T-shirt.’ 

Others however were quick to put down Macron’s photo-op.

Commentator Jonathan Bouchet-Petersen wrote in French publication Liberation that the photos were a ‘rather dismaying communication choice’.

He said he initially thought they were the product of a generative-AI programme – and would have preferred it had that been the case.  

‘Be careful, Rocky Macron is a real man,’ the writer quipped in a sarcastic reference to Sylvester Stallone’s character who managed to end the Cold War in his fight with Soviet super-athlete Ivan Drago – after sustaining hundreds of blows to the head.

French Greens MP Sandrine Rousseau also expressed her disappointment on social media, reposting the image with the comment: ‘What a defeat for progressivism. And what poverty of political communication.’ 

Pictures of French President Emmanuel Macron by his offical photographer Soazig de la Moissonnie

Macron ties a tie in front of his personal photographer

Macron, wearing French tricolore boxing gloves, slams a punchbag

Macron’s PR drive seeks to portray him as the complete package – a more subtle tack than that of his Russian counterpart

Macron is seen holding his crisp blue jacket over his shoulder as he checks his phone

Macron and his wife are seen alongside Elton John and David Furnish

Macron peeks at his personal photographer through a magnifying glass in the Elysee Palace

But Macron’s PR drive is not centred around overt aggression and sporting prowess.

It takes a more subtle tack, seeking to portray the Head of State as the complete package – a man other men want to be, and women want to be with. 

Unlike Putin’s serious, stonefaced photoshoots, the official images of Macron by de la Moissonnière are more tasteful.

They capture the French leader’s looks, confidence and charm as much as his masculinity and physical capabilities. 

From pictures of the President flashing a winning smile as he lounged on a mustard colour sofa with an crisp, unbuttoned shirt revealing his hairy chest, to the notorious portrait of Macron wearing a Zelensky-style hoody as he strode into the Golden Room of the Elysee Palace in the early days of the Ukraine war – many of the snaps  seek to display him as a man of versatility and character, rather than a hard-nosed, no-nonsense statesman. 

His photographic oeuvre reads like a catalogue of calculated nonchalance, with each image serving a dual purpose: to humanise the politician and to project an aura of charisma.

French President Emmanuel Macron (R) wears a flying suit as he meets with troops during a visit to the French air force base BA 125 in Istres, southeastern France, on July 20, 2017

A smiling Macron rests his head on a stack of papers at his desk

French President Emmanuel Macron looks at his phone following a family photo with G7 leaders at the G7 Summit in Elmau southern Germany, on June 26, 2022.

French President Emmanuel Macron riding his jetski during holidays in Fort de Bregancon, South of France

And yet, the most recent images of Macron’s boxing workout come at a time when he is working to position himself as the strongman of Europe standing up to Putin.  

This has led many to speculate that Macron wants to show off his fighting spirit and determination after military experts said he is bidding to lead NATO as a ‘Napoleon’.

Last week Macron declared the prospect of sending Western ground troops into Ukraine should not be ‘ruled out’ and urged European leaders not to be ‘cowards’ when it comes to the defence of Ukraine.

He also declared France is a nuclear power and reminded Putin ‘we are ready’ after the most recent bout of Russian nuclear-sabre rattling.   

In some of his latest comments about the war, Macron said last week that a Russian victory in Ukraine ‘would reduce Europe’s credibility to zero’ as he again refused to rule out deploying troops.

It’s a notable departure from Macron’s approach earlier in his presidency, when he sought to develop a strong, communicative relationship with Vladimir Putin.

In the early days of the Ukraine war, Macron was heavily criticised by Western partners for his continued attempts to conduct diplomacy with Putin, insisting on speaking to his Russian counterpart at regular intervals as he pushed for a ceasefire.