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The camera loves Kirsten Dunst. It has been that way since she made her debut in Woody Allen’s New York Stories, aged nine.

She now has a new role. It hints at Aesop’s fable The Lion in Love, when the king of the beasts, smitten by a young beauty, asks for her hand in marriage.

In this tale, Dunst is a silent star and a lion plays the supporting role. There’s no movie, merely a stills campaign in which she is the face of a new Bulgari fragrance, Mon Jasmin Noir. In tantalising images, Dunst is draped in a sheath, dripping with Bulgari gemstones. She sets the style bar high for her generation and for the fragrance’s global launch next month.

That’s the month she turns 29. Is this critically acclaimed box-office belle redefining her image? “No, not at all,” she says defiantly. “My image is that I look sophisticated, I am accessible and I’m young. My style is influenced by a new take on classics. Less is more to me. If I see someone who looks beautiful, I don’t see a woman who needs to wear the latest bag. True style is not dependent on that.

“The women I find the most beautiful are Charlotte Rampling and Susan Sarandon; if you’re going to be an actress, you’re going to need to age otherwise you’re not accessible,” she says.

“When you see a woman who looks 40 but is not …” she pauses, “I don’t like it when you start seeing all this …” (Is she talking about Botox? She won’t be drawn.)

At my meeting with Dunst, she’s cookie-cutter perfect, wearing tight black trousers, a striped tee and ankle boots.

Her porcelain skin was her sublime asset in the title role of Marie Antoinette in Sofia Coppola’s 2006 film. And there’s a reason for it: “I stay out of the sun and my skin improved when I quit smoking.”

She’s wearing a gold Bulgari Serpenti watch (“I love simple, statement jewellery”) and a white ceramic ring (“I love its sportiness”). It’s the B.Zero1, the biggest selling in Bulgari’s collection.

Her wardrobe runs from inexpensive vintage to Chanel couture and Marc Jacobs’s Louis Vuitton frocks. She’s a big fan of New York’s Rodarte – “We’re good friends,” she says of design sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy. Her shoes are routinely Christian Louboutin heels and Chanel flats.

Her first gift of fragrance was from Coppola. She was 18, filming The Virgin Suicides.

“I don’t like fragrance that is too girlie. I like subtle florals in the day and sexier and spicier scents in the evening.

“I’ve never experienced a fragrance like Mon Jasmin Noir, the way it starts out so fresh and gets a little spicier and sexier as the day goes on. I like both vibes. It’s like a dark garden. If it was a film, it would be Great Expectations.”

Her first experience of Bulgari was in a Four Seasons hotel. “I was very young. The bathroom products smelt so good. I was curious, getting to know the brand; it seemed to be rich, classic and luxurious and I thought about Elizabeth Taylor, all the legendary connections.

“So I knew about Bulgari. I like that this company is both establishment and family.

“Choosing me to do the campaign automatically opens up the doors to a new accessibility to perfume and high jewellery for someone my age.

“And why shouldn’t a young woman wear this gorgeous snake cuff?”

She describes the day, on the shores of Lake Como, when she posed for photographers Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott.

“We were outside, in the gardens of the Villa [del] Balbianello. The lion was in a cage. I would never get that close to a lion.”

Instead, she sat against a taxidermy stand-in and the lion was photoshopped in.

Does her boyfriend, drummer Jason Boesel, think she looks sexy in the images? “What he thinks is that I’m very, very funny.”

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