In her breakout film “Amelie,” gamine French actress Audrey Tautou charmed American audiences with her wide-eyed gaze and childlike mixture of innocence and mischief. On March 28, she will reveal a more conniving side when “Priceless” opens Stateside. Set in Monaco and Nice, Tautou goes against type as Irène Mercier, a gold-digging Riviera belle who’s addicted to fashion. As she is quick to point out, the romantic comedy “shows a dark side of society, even if it’s tiny. Behind the diamonds you can find a nasty, dirty thing.”

Still, for all its biting sentiment about money and relationships, the film playfully conveys the glittery side of life through its chic costumes and accessories, courtesy of Azzaro, Chanel, Costume National and Chopard. Unlike the rest of the arm candy on the Riviera, Irène’s wardrobe of knee-length jersey dresses and knit tops reflects her edgy personality.

This story first appeared in the March 20, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“To play a part very far from yourself you need to compose yourself differently, and the shoes and dresses helped me a lot with this,” explains Tautou, who in real life favors Dries Van Noten, Marc Jacobs, Isabel Marant and Chloé. “They change the way you stand, behave and walk,” or in Irène’s case, teeter in a Champagne-induced haze on gold Chanel stilettos.

Among Tautou’s favorite pieces are the gray Azzaro halter dress with gold cord trim she wears in the opening scene and a cut-down-to-there black number with crystal rings at the shoulders she dons as her final look.

“She needs to wear those kinds of dresses because she can only trust her powers of seduction, and for most men, it works,” says Tautou, currently on break before filming “Coco avant Chanel,” in which she plays the legendary designer.

“Priceless” takes the actress through several scenarios — lounging poolside, riding a Vespa through the seaside cliffs, eating almond cakes in town — throughout which she must appear effortlessly chic and maintain a Saint-Tropez tan (she says she had to take “a few trips to the UV”).

While the clingy frocks were a departure from Tautou’s personal style, the most difficult part about playing Irène was the cease-and-desist order placed on her nail-biting habit. “That was a big effort,” she laughs, “but the manicures made me stop.”