When a camel is your greeter, you know your evening is about to get interesting. And so it went at House of DIFFA 2017, the blowout gala for DIFFA/Dallas, held May 6 at the Omni hotel downtown.
Never an organization to embrace anything halfway, DIFFA enticed supporters with an Arabesque theme. The evening was exotic and thrilling, from the aforementioned camel to the belly dancers who welcomed patrons into the ballroom to the bold, colorful, and intricately detailed designs featured in the fashion show.
Can’t say there were any complaints about the bevy of barely clothed male models who stood watch during cocktail hour and walked the runway during the performance. We’ve never seen so many six-packs in a single night.
But theatrics is only one facet of this event, which serves a very important purpose: to raise funds for HIV/AIDS supportive entities in North Texas. The mission never got lost amid the showmanship, thanks to impassioned speeches from House of DIFFA event chair Sami Abboud and board of trustees chair Chuck Steelman.
Also powerful were the messages sprinkled throughout the program — reminders such as “an average of 4,200 people in Texas are diagnosed with HIV every year” and “60 percent of new HIV diagnoses in Dallas County are under the age of 35.” We may know more than ever about HIV, but there is still work to be done.
Which is why advocates gave generously in the live and silent auctions and during the Fund-A-Grant. For the latter, special guest Natasha Bedingfield — who had just taken us all back with performances of “Pocket of Sunshine” and “Unwritten” — remained on stage to encourage people to open their hearts and wallets. And they did, exceeding the Fund-A-Grant goal of $100,000.
Another highlight from the evening was the George Michael tribute that had everyone singing along to songs like “Faith” as models strutted the runway in looks from Traffic LA. Headington Companies was the title sponsor for the fourth year in a row, so fashions from Traffic, as well as TenOverSix and Forty Five Ten, figured prominently during the show.
But the fun didn’t stop when the last person took a bow. Attendees — including members of the 2017 Style Council, Cary and Mark Deuber, LeeAnne Locken, Gina Ginsburg, Suzanne and Richard Rawlings, Krystal and Tommy DeLano, Kameron Westcott, Samantha Wortley, Gilbert Barron, David Andrews, John McGill, Julie Loyd, and Clint Bradley — simply headed around the corner to the after-party, where DJ Lucy Wrubel was spinning.
Founded in 1984, the Dallas chapter of Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS has provided funds to more than 25 frontline AIDS service organizations in North Texas, which serve over 23,000 men, women, and children in the area who are living with or are affected by AIDS.