When Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana were looking for a new face for their beauty collection, they didn’t have to look far in settling on Monica Bellucci, who had recently returned to the Italian design house.

This story first appeared in the February 17, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“We are very old friends of Monica’s,” said Gabbana, reached by phone. “We must have met in 1989 or 1990.…We really grew up together.”

Describing Bellucci as “a fantastic woman, very sunny, very feminine,” Gabbana said that for him and design partner Dolce, working with Bellucci was “like working with a family member. She’s our icon, she’s the emblem of Dolce & Gabbana.”

So much so that Bellucci will also front a limited edition makeup line, the Monica Lipstick Collection, which will hit stores May 12.

“Monica has a strong appeal to consumers all over the world,” said Luigi Feola, vice president of P&G Prestige, which holds the beauty license, noting the company hopes Bellucci will help attract new consumers of all ages. “I think it’s also a testament to how respected we are within the makeup business, that we attract a celebrity of the caliber of Monica, in addition to what we already have with Scarlett [Johansson] and Felicity Jones,” he said, naming the other two faces of Dolce & Gabbana Make Up.

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He added Dolce & Gabbana’s cosmetics line is currently expanding distribution. “We are rolling out quite fast, but what we want to be sure of is that we do it right,” he said, naming Italy and Russia as key regions.

The new lipsticks will be available in six shades and will cost $32 each. By the time of the launch, the Dolce & Gabbana color collection will be in about 120 to 150 doors in the U.S., the U.K., Italy, Russia, Greece, Spain and the Middle East. Feola and Gabbana declined to discuss sales projections.

“The idea for the collection was to create different shades, different colors depending on your mood of the day, your state of mind,” Bellucci said, noting she was “honored” to be working with her friends Dolce and Gabbana once again. “I love all shades in the collection and feel drawn to the different colors, depending on how I feel.”

“Lipstick says a lot about a woman. It is her most traditional gesture,” Bellucci added. “I remember my grandmother even though she wasn’t a young woman anymore, would always take her mirror and put on some red lipstick before going to church. Of course it wasn’t to show off, but it was a feminine gesture for her own pleasure. And when I was a little girl, I loved seeing the way she was taking care of herself.”

Asked to explain her attachment to the Dolce & Gabbana brand over the years, Bellucci said, “I really admire the way that they channel sensuality into their work, whether that’s in an overtly feminine way, or sometimes with really subtle touches that aren’t immediately obvious but really catch your attention.”

The advertising campaign for the Monica Lipstick Collection — shot by photographers Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott in London in October 2011, with makeup by Pat McGrath — draws inspiration from the golden era of Italian cinema, evoking the classic, voluptuous beauty of actresses such as Sophia Loren. It will run in print starting in May in Italy, the U.S., the U.K., Russia and the Middle East.

Although P&G declined to discuss figures, industry sources estimate that the first-year sales target of the lipstick collection could reach well over $6 million, with a promotional war chest between $6 million to $10 million.

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