Sunday, April 1, 2012

DIFFA 2012 Was Smoking Haute

On Saturday, March 31, 2012, more than a thousand socialites, drag queens, fashionistas and charitable do-gooders gathered at the Hilton Anatole for Smoking Haute: DIFFA Collection 2012 - a silent auction including smoking jackets, live auction, dinner, an amazing runway show, theater, after party, spectacle and excitement in a way that only DIFFA can deliver. All benefiting North Texas HIV/AIDS charities.

In 1966 Yves Saint Laurent introduced Le Smoking, a tailored fitted tuxedo jacket for women. A revolutionary idea that brought traditional male tailoring to the feminine form.  DIFFA took this as their inspiration for this year's theme and decided to reinvent this fashion classic in 2012, asking top name designers from around the county interpreting the Smoking Jacket with one-of-a kind couture designs for both men and women.  

(top left) Rene Rouleau and Shona Gilbert (top right) Buster and Cathy Williamson
(bottom left) Hillary and Eric Gilbert  (bottom right) Victoria Snee, Amy Vanderoef and Abi Ferrin

I came of age in the 1980's when HIV/AIDS first hit the mainstream as the "gay disease" that resulted in a painful and certain death.  In the next ten years, we discovered that you could also get the disease from sharing needles and that Mothers could pass it to their unborn children in the womb. The scientific community moved swiftly to discover drugs that would cure, prevent or at least treat the disease. 20+ years later, while no cure exists, we have been successful in the treatment of HIV/AIDS. But with these medical advances comes complacency for a new generation no longer faced with the fear my generation had about this disease.

Clint Bradley, DIFFA Chairman says, "HIV/ADIS is now a top-5 killer within mainstream communities worldwide, the US and especially Dallas. I am greatly alarmed with the bullet-proof misconceptions our youth possess towards the AIDS pandemic today.  DIFFA/Dallas has increased our focus on providing funding for preventative education."  With Federal funding diminishing, fundraising events like DIFFA are critical. 

(top left) LeeAnne Locken and Danielle Vollmar  (top right) Cynthia with Matt Nordgren
(bottom left) Heidi and Bill Dillon  (bottom right) Justin Bundick and Jose Reyes

Co-Chairs, Matt Wilkerson and Darin Kunz kicked off the event, welcoming attendees and introducing the 2012 Style Council.  Every team needs cheerleaders, and each year DIFFA selects a new group of Ambassadors, which include some of our town's most stylish trendsetters and movers-and-shakers.  But, these individuals aren't just pretty faces rah-rah'ing for the event - they are selected for their valued commitment to raising awareness of the fundraiser and money for North Texas AIDS service organizations who provide direct care to those living with HIV and AIDS.

This year's 2012 Style Council included:  Gillian Breidenbach, Anne Stodgehill, Raymund C. King, Bret McKinney, Hillary Gilbert, Jeri Johnson, Tara Harper, Abi Ferrin, Ken Foret, Chuck Steelman, Laura Ginsburg, Amy Vanderoef, Shay Geyer and Alberto Lombardi. 

photos courtesy of Quoc "QC" Cong of XO Photography

After a bland dinner of a breaded chicken breast, green beans and one baby carrot (seriously, for $300 a ticket they need to kick this up a notch next year) the fashion show began.  Produced by Jan Strimple, it was an over-the-top extravaganza of style and pop performance.  Of course, it's just not a DIFFA show without a drag queen show-stopper - and this year held a FABULOUS performance by some of my favorite girls lip-syncing to the Spice Girls. 

After they got the crowd all pumped up, it was time to boogie into the after-party. The DJ started spinning and everyone took to the dance floor. I immediately commanded my entourage, "Shoes off!" and we made a pile of stilettos in the middle of the dance floor, followed promptly by our clutches and other assorted accessories. We then proceeded to dance with wild abandon around the pile like gypsies around a campfire. It was hilarious fun and I can't wait for next year's event!

My dance posse:  LeeAnne Locken, Cynthia, Rene Rouleau and Dawn Neufeld.

Click here to see many more photos 
from this event on Facebook.

About DIFFA:  
The mission of the Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS (DIFFA) is to raise funds and grant those funds to organizations which fight HIV/AIDS by providing preventative education programs targeted to populations at risk of infection, treatment and direct care services for people living with/impacted by HIV/AIDS and that support public policy initiatives which add resources to private sector funds.

About my ensemble:
Special thanks to Watters for my beautiful gown, Kendra Scott for the beautiful jewelry and to Daniel Lewis at Green Peridot Salon for sculpting my tresses into a sophisticated up-do for the evening. I felt like a Princess!