By  on May 2, 2008

PARIS — Martin Margiela, the ultimate industry outsider, is trying out a new and unexpected persona: fashion's next big thing.

Twenty years after the Belgian iconoclast founded a fashion house based on deconstruction, cleft-toed boots and a compulsion to cover surfaces with white cotton or paint, his namesake brand is riding high and sailing into new, high-visibility categories like fragrance and fine jewelry. But does the designer's participation in such expansion activity suggest that finally, Margiela is selling out on long-held principles — some would say pretensions — in favor of cashing in on fashion's more mainstream spoils?

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