Affordable Armani?

Posted by Mary Jo Almeida-Shore On December - 20 - 2009

Armani minus the Sticker Shock

axArmani Exchange, which for 17 years has brought “Affordable Armani” (not an oxymoron) to South Beach, celebrated its facelift and expansion last week with a bit of fanfare. If you’ll recall, 17 years ago most of Lincoln Road was condemned by the city and Ocean Drive was a retirement community. Yet Armani Exchange set up shop to bring hip and stylish clothes to the pioneers of the SoBe we’ve come to know and love (most of the time). President & CEO Harlan Bratcher told the 411 “AIX was the first designer flagship store on South Beach, and Giorgio Armani was the first designer to offer a ‘diffusion line’ (that’s a fancy way to say cheap, chic designer duds). The average price for a designer piece is just $50, but it’s not a ‘one-time-wear.’ Affordable Armani is still Armani.” Other designers following in Armani’s footsteps by creating diffusion lines include Donna Karan, Oscar de la Renta and Marc Jacobs.

Armani Exchange’s new look features sleek, futuristic styling and 6,200-square-feet of shopping room. The mega-store embodies Giorgio Armani’s new retail store concept, boasting trademark accessible Armani attire inspired by street-chic culture, fashion freedom and personal style.  AIX now carries an expanded collection, including clothing, accessories, footwear, eyewear, watches, jewelry and dance music-yes, music, so you can bring home the tunes you jammed to in the dressing room.

Bratcher says, “AIX is fast fashion, which changes every 4 weeks, targeting the shopper who needs something to wear right now. That means great sales all the time and a reason to come back time and time again.” As we speak, you can buy any item, and pick up another at ½ off. To celebrate the store’s re-launch and to shop, Melrose Place star, Katie Cassidy and co-star Michael Rady made in store appearances last Saturday with a group of shirtless A|X male models in-tow. Rady opted for A|X’s signature denim jeans while Cassidy had her hands full of party dresses – the one item they both scooped up: A|X’s aviator sunglasses.

On Saturday night, Cassidy hosted friends and VIP guests at the Armani Exchange “Cool Shades of Style” dinner at the Solarium atop the Delano Hotel, including Michael Rady, the New York Yankees’, Alex Rodriguez, Kelly Osbourne and fiancé Luke Worrall (in matching Andy Warhol-inspired hairstyles), David Cassidy, Wilmer Valderrama and Victoria’s Secret supermodels, Alessandra Ambrosio and Doutzen Kroes. At the party, guests tried on the latest styles of A|X shades and danced along to music by DJ Berrie.

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