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Fashion: Designers jive to frock 'n' roll

We've squirted ourselves with designers' perfumes, worn their names on the waistband of our knickers, boasted their initials on our sunglasses. Now we can listen to their CDs.

Since 1995 Ralph Lauren has brought out four theme CDs reflecting his classic, all-American style. Customers have been buying his sophisticated choice of classical music and jazz - The Black Tie Collection features the sensuous sounds of Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and Fred Astaire - with the same fervour as they've shown for his Polo shirts.

Donna Karan, on the other hand, goes for hip kids' stuff. Her compilation album Style Sound, in association with Sony, features Kula Shaker, Lou Reed and Fiona Apple. It will soon be on sale in her shops.

Ralph and Donna have steered clear of forming bands themselves, unlike Jean Paul Gaultier and Dolce & Gabbana. Gaultier was the first designer to come out of the closet with his '92 single "Hot Couture". More recently, the uber-hip duo Dolce & Gabbana have put their leopard print on vinyl. The 1996 Hi NRG single "D&G Music", licensed through EMI, was number one in Italy. Then, remixed by the dance maestro Roger Sanchez, it went on to be a hit in America.

Currently sprinkling their disco dust on a new single, to be released in the autumn, D&G are simply using the best form of communication to sell their brand. It seems that everyone is at it - even the designer behind the French label APC Jean Touitou, who is hardly a household name. For the past four years he has been releasing compilation CDs of his favourite music through his clothing label.

"The way I look at it is, I don't do perfume, because I think there are enough beautiful ones already," says Jean, "So the CDs are the perfume to go with the clothes." He aims to offers a complete way of life. So not only can you buy the jacket, you can also havea notebook, a pair of slippers, and a soundtrack for your personal hi-fin

DKNY (0171-808 8188)

APC (0171-225 0364)

Jessica Stein