A Russian swindler in Paris gets a model to help him start a business; they become successful partners, but she falls in love with a diplomat.
In Paris in 1931 Nicole Picot (Kay Francis) models the latest fashion. Suzanne (Alison Skipworth) warns her to be selfish and watch out for a man. Stefan Orloff (Claude Rains) selects Nicole as a private model and takes her to a mansion; but no one is there. Stefan wants to make money and asks her help. Over the years she becomes successful in fashions with Stefan and Suzanne. Nicole wears a new gown at a ball. Anthony Wayne (Ian Hunter) tells his fiancé he doesn't like it. Stefan asks Nicole if she will ever marry him, but she is ambitious. Stefan tells Ranier (Frank Reicher) not to worry, because he is buying bonds guaranteed by the League of Nations. Chalon (Walter Kingsford), Dupont (Frank Conroy), and Le Grand (Charles Halton) agree. Stefan tells Nicole they are going to Geneva on vacation.
On the plane Nicole criticizes Anthony's coat. Stefan attends to business while Suzanne has Nicole go out with diplomat Anthony. Stefan buys two million in bonds and calls Nicole but gets Suzanne. Anthony drives Nicole, and the car breaks down in the country. They walk, enter a house, but refrain from killing birds for supper. Suzanne tells Stefan that the cards say Nicole is happy with Anthony, but Stefan is in trouble. Police Prefect (Robert Strange) begins arrests with Ranier at his bank. Stefan assures his partners while blaming policeman Dupont. Anthony insists on going in with Nicole and kisses her. Nicole gets a message to call Paris and goes back to help Stefan.
Mayor Le Grand is arrested. Stefan tells Nicole he will go to prison unless she weds him among high society. Nicole tells Anthony that she loves Stefan, and they part sadly. Stefan weds Nicole before a selected group. The police Prefect comes in and arrests Chalon. Stefan tells Nicole they are leaving, and Dupont tells her that many lost money and so are hostile to Stefan. Nicole refuses to go.
Stefan is wanted for swindling. A mob attacks Nicole's business. Policeman Dupont is accused and ordered to get Stefan. Nicole gets a note from Stefan. Anthony tries to stop her. She admits she loves Anthony but must go to Stefan. Nicole asks Stefan to explain; he says he swindles and dislikes her pity, which is "only despising coated over with the sugar of sympathy." Stefan sees police closing in and goes out. Dupont tells Nicole that Stefan shot himself and lets her go. In the final scene Nicole is leaving while Anthony pleads to marry her until she consents.
This drama pauses to cater to people's interest in Paris fashions while offering a moral tale warning a woman against letting her love for a man trip her up. In gratitude Nicole extends herself for her unethical friend.