The fabulous fashion and philanthropic spirit of DIFFA/Dallas has only been building during the uncertain COVID-19 times, and on May 7 it overflowed with House of DIFFA: Extravaganza.
Held at the Omni Dallas Hotel, the opulent gala was the culmination of a season of celebrating and fundraising for the Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS, and 1,400 people came ready to party at the sold-out event.
The event began with a knock-'em-dead red carpet that transitioned into a display of the famous DIFFA jackets, which joined a wealth of artwork, home decor, incredible experiences, and travel opportunities in the silent auction.
This curated selection features a staggering array of one-of-a-kind tailored jackets by world-renowned designers such as Veronica Beard, Badgley Mischka, Alberta Ferretti, Trina Turk, Frame, Nha Khanh, Lea Fisher, DSquared2, Lucchese, Emilio Pucci, Alexander McQueen, Lela Rose, and many more.
Glamorous guests could browse all the offerings during the cocktail party, where New York native and multidisciplinary artist Alexis Lucena, better known as LEXXE, took the stage with a vintage approach to classic songs.
Dancers then greeted patrons in the ballroom, where a delectable three-course meal was served before the night's program really got started.
First up was the Style Council Ambassador and DIFFA Legends runway walk, followed by a powerful speech by House of DIFFA co-chairs Clint Bradley, Justin Bundick, Brittanie Buchanan Oleniczak, and Jim DiMarino, DIFFA/Dallas’ current chair David White, and DIFFA/Dallas chair emeritus Tim Garippa.
Awards were then presented to Rob Bradford (Impact in Fashion Award), Morris Dental Clinic (Health Award), George Cameron Nash (Excellence in Design Award), Michael Bauer (Legacy of Love Award), Tim LeDuc (Donna Fishel Community Hero Award), and Joyce and Kenny Goss (Legend in the Fight Against AIDS).
Bravo TV stars Carson Kressley and Jai Rodriguez took over the hosting duties, introducing Dashaun Wesley, host of the HBO Max original series Legendary, and his troupe of dancers. They demonstrated the famous dance style Voguing, made popular in the “houses” of the underground ballroom culture in late-1970s New York City.
People then pulled out their pocketbooks for the Fund-A-Grant campaign and live auction, hosted by comedian and celebrity auctioneer Dana Goldberg.
"Even though House of DIFFA: Extravaganza was postponed for two years, due to the generosity of our sponsors and patrons, DIFFA/Dallas was still able to grant more than $600,000 to North Texas AIDS service organizations throughout the pandemic," says DIFFA/Dallas board chair David White. "Now that House of DIFFA is back in person and bigger than ever, we’re thrilled to exceed our grant-giving goal this season."
Patrons were then dazzled by a truly gorgeous runway show featuring looks from Neiman Marcus, Forty Five Ten, and Traffic LA, with performances interlaced between the vignettes.
Gwendolynne Murphy led a rendition of "Sweet Transvestite" from The Rocky Horror Picture Show, RuPaul’s Drag Race star Elliott with 2 Ts performed to "The Sex Is In the Heel" from the musical Kinky Boots, and LEXXE returned for a sexy scene called “In The Garden of Good & Evil,” which started with a verdant, angelic backdrop and transitioned to a darker, more dangerous atmosphere once Eve bit into the apple.
DJ Lucy Wrubel had the after-party ready to roll, along with a live performance by SHAB.
Spotted throughout the evening were some of Dallas’ most charitable, including Jenni Bania, Sherwood Wagner, Don Gaiser, Steve Borick, Carol and Tom Hatton, Anne and Steve Stodghill, Greg Haynes Johnson, Zach Hess, Joe and Arnold Pacetti, Angie Barrett, Ken Weber, Ferrell Drum, Tulio Martins, Donna Fishel, LB Rosser, Haley Clark, Richard Rivas, Lisa and Tim Georgalis, Nickki St. George, Darin Kunz, James Bruce, Patrick Gibson, Chris Floyd, and more.
DIFFA is one of the largest and most successful fundraising organizations aiding HIV/AIDS, with chapters in Dallas, New York, Chicago, Kansas City, San Francisco, and Seattle.
The Dallas chapter, formed in 1984, is one of the largest HIV/AIDS organizations in Texas that provides funding to local HIV/AIDS service organizations within our community.
DIFFA/Dallas has granted more than $8 million to 25 frontline HIV/AIDS service organizations in North Texas providing direct care to those living or affected by HIV/AIDS.