PARIS — Forget French kisses. Parfums Christian Dior has a new Italian pout to shout about.

The beauty company, owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, has signed a two-year contract with Italian actress Monica Bellucci to front its Rouge Dior lipstick line. A revamped version of the brand’s best-selling makeup will bow worldwide in September.

A 400-strong crowd crammed the Pavillon Ledoyen here Wednesday to celebrate the event and welcome Bellucci to the Dior family, which includes celebrity spokeswomen Sharon Stone and Charlize Theron.

“She is the incarnation of the rebirth of Rouge Dior,” said Claude Martinez, Parfums Christian Dior president and chief executive officer. “She is one of the most talented actresses ever.”

Bellucci, who modeled for Dior in the Nineties, was effusive about her love of cosmetics.

“My mother and my grandmother wore red lipstick. It’s so feminine,” she said. “Even when my grandmother was an old woman, she wore lipstick. I was so proud of her. Even at 80, she was still in love with herself.”

Dressed in a long red John Galliano-designed Dior gown, Bellucci was high on glamour and had a preference for striking makeup.

“Red is the color of Italy,” she said. “It’s about love and passion.”

Passion and provocation were the inspirations for Rouge Dior’s advertising campaign shot by Tyen, the brand’s artistic director since 1979.

“There was more passion this time,” Tyen said of working with Bellucci.

Ads, which will break as single- and double-page spreads in September, feature a close-up of the actress.

“It’s not like a fashion shoot. It’s a film still, so that a beautiful image is captured,” Tyen explained.

Bellucci, who will be a judge at the Cannes Film Festival later this month, will star in on-screen advertising for Rouge Dior starting in September, a first for Dior makeup.

“She has glamour in her blood,” said Stephanie Ravillon, makeup business manager at Dior. “She has strong personality and makes strong choices when she chooses her movies, and she has the most beautiful lips in the world.”

This story first appeared in the May 12, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Rouge Dior, introduced in 1955, was reworked to be more modern, Ravillon said, adding the firm took three years to complete the revamp. The satin-finish formula has been reblended with new ingredients, including Decox, also used in Dior’s Capture treatment line and designed to plump. The formula also contains an oligopeptide, which stimulates collagen production. To give each color extra oomph, Dior added a mineral powder with pearly white highlights.

The lipstick’s packaging also got a makeover. The hexagonal tubes have been replaced by rectangular ones in shades of blue. Each tube is engraved with a wicker-effect etching — a leitmotif of the fashion house.

Rouge Dior comprises 32 shades, all of which will be available in Europe. The U.S. will get 24 shades and Asia, 22. In France, each lipstick will retail for 25.67 euros, or $32.44, at current exchange.

Industry sources estimate the line could do $15 million retail its first year in the U.S.