Standing in the back corner of Milan’s La Borsa where Calvin Klein is launching its new makeup line during fashion week, Christina Ricci, pixie in stature and in hairdo, is encircled by hungry photographers. With every flash, the actress seems to shrink even more in size, despite her seven-inch Givenchy platform pumps.

She willingly poses for cell-phone pictures—careful to tip her head to one side so her graphic bob cuts a dramatic angle. She remains unfazed by the endless stream of guests moving toward her. She answers the never-ending clichéd questions—“How do you like to dress? “What’s your makeup routine?”

“I’m just making sure nothing’s showing that shouldn’t be,” Ricci says, after ducking out of the fray, sitting down, and tugging on the hemline of her glistening cropped Calvin Klein Collection dress. “If they are going to see your ass, they are probably going to see cellulite. Last thing you need is to see the full on, you know?”

Indeed, beauty has been on the actress’ mind lately, since she is helping to launch Calvin Klein’s ck makeup collection.

And since cutting her hair shorter, Ricci has found a renewed love of cosmetics. “I am actually having to wear more makeup with this hair because it’s more of a dramatic haircut,” she says. “I kind of have to play it up a little bit. I live in L.A. and every once in a while there will be paparazzi, but I find that if you are not looking for it, you don’t come across it that often.” But when she does, Ricci knows the drill. “It is very easy to be like, ‘All right guys, what do you want a picture of?’” she says. “And they take it and they are off. I am not really as famous as the people that get hounded every day, so it is a different thing for me.”

Perhaps, but considering she broke into show business at age 10, the 27-year-old Ricci has achieved a certain level of notoriety for choosing typically edgy roles in commercial and indie flicks.

Now, after appearing in last year’s controversial Black Snake Moan, Ricci is on hiatus after wrapping two films scheduled for release next year. The first, a Reese Witherspoon–produced fantasy titled Penelope, scheduled to open February 1, has Ricci sporting a prosthetic pig nose. She plays the title character, a wealthy debutante who’s cursed with the snout until she can find someone to love her for herself. “It has a really great message for girls,” Ricci says. “And it’s very funny. It’s not just for kids—adults will really like it, too.”

Then there’s the much-hyped real-life adaptation of the Speed Racer cartoon, directed by the Wachowski brothers and set for release on May 9. Ricci’s big eyes grow even larger when she talks about playing Trixie, Speed Racer’s girlfriend, in the big-budget flick. “It was the most fun I ever had on a movie,” she gushes.

In fact, Trixie’s Mod look is the reason for Ricci’s new severe bob-and-bangs coif. “It’s very different for me,” she says, fingering the curved ends of her hair, “but I guess every once in a while you’ve got to change it up.”

But when it comes to clothes, Ricci prefers to play it safe, sticking with minidresses that complement her just-over-5-foot frame.

“Because I am a short girl, I always wear short dresses. I don’t like conceptual fashion. I am much more about what looks good on me and the way things feel and the luxury of it. I love things that are really pretty.”

Lately, Ricci’s also been heavily into jewelry, the loaner Cartier emerald and diamond earrings and panther bracelet encrusted with pavé diamonds she’s wearing, in particular.

Patting the panther’s head, studded with two emeralds for eyes, Ricci purrs: “He’s borrowed, but one day he is going to be mine.”

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