PARIS — Isabelle Adjani walks into the Daniel hotel here like the movie star she is, a black shawl wrapped around her shoulders, a beige Lancel bag slung on her arm.

The bag is a tip-off: The French star is easing into her new role as ambassadress for the French leather goods brand, part of luxury giant Compagnie Financière Richemont. Adjani agreed to pose for the 130-year-old brand’s latest ad campaign, which is scheduled to launch in France and in Asia next April.

Lancel is looking to improve its profile in the luxury market with new concept stores and more luxurious lines. Enter Adjani, an acclaimed actress known for carefully controlling her image in an age of celebrity meltdowns.

Adjani said she chose to align herself with Lancel because of the history of the house and also because it’s not a superficial association. “I’m not a fashion icon,” she said, adding, “I like to love my bags not for the effect they’ll make, but by passion.”

Nevertheless, she sometimes likes her bag to be noticed, too.

“Walking in a room with a bag other woman like is a fabulous experience,” she admitted.

Adjani’s role goes beyond the ads. She’s agreed not only to attend major Lancel events, like worldwide store openings or product launches, but also to create her own bag.

“It’s a wonderful dream come true in a woman’s life,” said Adjani, listing the qualities of her ideal bag: assurance, comfort and also embellishment.

To be sure, Adjani is a woman on the go. In April, she will start filming “New York, I Love You,” Anthony Minghella’s latest movie, in New York. In June, she’ll go blonde for a role in Martine Dugowson’s “Dernière Adresse,” a romantic comedy about a woman who thinks she could be Marilyn Monroe’s granddaughter. And later this year, she’ll play in Isabelle Mergault’s “Forfait Carabou” and in Yasmina Benguigui’s “Le Paradis, c’est complet.”

Also, at the end of the 2008, in tandem with a Serge Gainsbourg retrospective at the Paris Music Museum, she will release an album of Gainsbourg’s songs.

This story first appeared in the February 22, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“It’s like a globe-trotter schedule,” Adjani said about her hectic agenda.

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