By  on February 9, 2006

NEW YORK — Cirque du Soleil has a new trick up its sequined sleeve.

The $500 million Montreal-based entertainment empire known for its creative extravaganzas filled with evocative music, dazzling costumes and supremely athletic performers, wants to build a brand that highlights fashion, cosmetics — and more.

The company this summer plans to launch women's ready-to-wear, which will be followed by men's wear and children's wear, and a fragrance project is in the works. Cirque also has its sights on other product categories and is even considering opening its own stores.

"There's an enormous amount of ambition to take Cirque outside the theater to a wide variety of applications," said Rodney Landi, vice president of merchandising. "We wonder, what would a restaurant, hotel or spa by Cirque be like? There's endless applications."

Accessories are a logical extension to fashion, Landi said, adding that home furnishings, fitness and children's toys are also good fits. Cosmetics is a natural for Cirque — performers are trained to put on their own makeup, which may take hours.

"You can put that magic on yourself and transform yourself," Landi said. "Cirque is all about transformation."

Where will all the new products be sold? Certainly not the crammed concession stands under blue and white grand chapiteau where T-shirts and posters are on sale during the 20-minute intermissions of a dozen separately themed shows.

"Opening our own stores is something we'd very much like to do," Landi said. "It's certainly one of my own dreams. We've worked hard to push past the expected souvenirs. At our shows we have lots of physical limitations with no fitting rooms. Lots of times we have great ideas for products but we know they're not going to work under the big top."

The 64-piece rtw collection for fall-winter 2006 is to be introduced in August in about 300 specialty boutiques worldwide.

While the natural impulse is to assume that the clothes will be theatrical, costumey or downright strange — think of the grotesque bird humans in "Alégría" or the sea creatures in "Ka" — the collection appeared to be surprisingly wearable.

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