Flirty summer ruffles will be shown at Armani Exchange's CD release party and fashion show tomorrow, along with jeans modeled by Josh Stevenson and Maile Fujikawa.

What a life

Music and fashion mix at
Armani Exchange's CD release party

There is clothing, then there is fashion, which is more about ideas and ideals. You can wrap yourself in a plain old T-shirt or cloak yourself in an aura of cool embracing every aspect of your lifestyle, from the shoes on your feet, to the cafes you frequent, to the hotels -- increasingly designer-owned -- where you recharge.

Armani Exchange has always been a purveyor of cool, but the company isn't stopping at your exterior shell. Now it wants to get inside your head via music.

To celebrate the release of A/X's third CD, "Higher," the company is throwing a free party from 6 to 9 p.m. tomorrow at its Ala Moana store, with a mix of cocktails, hors d'oeuvres from Indigo, the music of DJ Kool E from 102.7 FM and DisGuyz, informal modeling of A/X's summer line, a drawing for a $1,000 shopping spree, and a young club-going crowd.

"They know the deejays and know what's hot, and we incorporate that into the shopping experience," said Patrick Doddy, senior director of public relations and event marketing for A/X, who's flown in from New York for the occasion.

Alyson Thomas and Stevenson show A/X khaki in a skirt for her and T-shirt for him.

"Higher," mixed by Grammy Award-winning deejay Peter Rauhofer, features the music of Made by Monkeys to Murk, with a little Madonna thrown in.

The event was timed to coincide with Golden Week, the peak vacation season for Japan travelers who contribute to 50 percent of A/X's success in Hawaii.

"It's a way of giving back to the community," said Doddy, who attributes A/X's popularity to the line's wearability, with pieces that can be easily mixed and matched with any basics one might own.

Models circulating through the crowd will show breezy sundresses in crisp white, cropped pants, feminine ruffles in pale pink and white, and glints of metallic shine on purses and belts. The sporty look of nylon mesh is updated in cotton for softer, street-ready appeal. Pieces range from $78 to $130.

Men are covered by loose-fit, casual jackets that can be paired with T-shirts or any one of A/X's tunic-inspired or optical-print shirts.

Armani Exchange will open its 70th store next week in San Diego, and Doddy said more Hawaii stores are planned. Although this rock can be isolating for fashion, when it comes to sun and surf wear, we're still ahead of the curve.

"This is a very important market for us," Doddy said. "Believe it or not, what sells here often trickles into other markets. Because it's warmer here earlier in the year, we can see what merchandise is moving for spring and summer, and we can react based on how the Hawaii stores perform."

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