On Saturday, March 29, the highly-anticipated annual gala of the Dallas chapter of Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS (DIFFA) returned for its 24th season. A seated dinner, runway show, cocktail party, and silent auction of celebrity-designed jackets round out the black tie evening, which raises funds for men, women, and children affected by HIV and AIDS. To date, DIFFA Dallas has granted over $5 million dollars to the cause.
Relocated to the luxurious Omni Hotel Dallas after years at the Hilton Anatole, this year’s event was inspired by the Carnival of Venice. The Masquerade theme had our city buzzing for weeks – if not months – leading to the gala. On the big night, hundreds of attendees arrived at the venue in elaborate masks and intricate eveningwear (pictured below, D’Andra Simmons and Cynthia Smoot).
As dinner was served, the 2014 DIFFA Style Council, which included veteran broadcast journalist Clarice Tinsley (pictured below), graced the double-sided runway. The comely crew hyped up the enthusiastic crowd, and set the tone for the runway production soon to follow.
The renowned House of DIFFA jacket collection was next to take the stage, illustrating with much theatrics the talent and artistry of both eminent and emerging designers. From finely tailored jackets by Saint Laurent Paris, to colorful blazers by Edo Popken, the collection was lavish.
As the production progressed, the creatively clad guests became spectacle in and of themselves, nearly overshadowing the runway show. They danced fearlessly to a Lady Gaga-esque drag performance, and shouted deafening whoops as the models’ masks and attire became more bizarre and complex.
Indeed, handmade masquerade masks embellished with sparkling jewels were crowd favorites. They were paired with designer apparel that spanned ultra-casual to rocker chic. Models strutted in colorful and playful prints, however, the focus remained on the masks.
Ultimately, while the runway show was over-the-top by normal standards, it was tame in the historically spectacular world of DIFFA. Veteran attendees noted that it was not as outrageous as previous productions, and some speculated that the change in venue was a contributing factor. Nevertheless, DIFFA Collection 2014 was still a sight to behold, and will likely hold its rank among this year’s top Dallas fashion events.
All photos, credit Jessica Adkins, Arravaggio Photography, for DFW Style Daily.