Across the street from The Joule, the grounds surrounding The Eye took on the appearance of a festival on the evening of Thursday, April 13. Guests were having a grand time in swings decorated with clusters of multi-colored streamers and enjoying edibles and adult beverages. Actually it was the Patron Preview Party just hinting at what’s in store for the House Of DIFFA The List. In addition to showcasing auction items and artist James Peter Henry painting Gabriella Monte‘s Dolce and Gabbana gown, there was, of course, a dazzling array of current and past designers jackets that would be up for grabs at the DIFFA Dallas fundraiser. And adding to the oomph of the night was the announcement of the celebs and awardee who would be at the fundraiser on Saturday, May 13. Here’s a report from the field:
All eyes were on DIFFA Dallas at their highly anticipated annual Patron Preview Party on Thursday, April 13, 2023, at The Eye at The Joule. Hosted by Headington Companies and The Joule, attendees were treated to an exclusive preview of the luxury jacket auction collection and silent auction items ahead of this year’s House of DIFFA event, taking place on Saturday, May 13, at the Hilton Anatole Dallas.
Guests like Anna Berman, Andre Yabin, Deve Sanford and Amber Griffin were greeted at the entrance of the event by trays of Don Julio margaritas and Ketel One Vodka sodas while they got a preview of live auction items, including a porcelain installation by Lucrecia Waggoner, a print by David Yarrow and a luxury trip to Cabo for two that will be available at the main event.
Patrons, including Steve Kemble, Rhonda Sargent Chambers, LeAnne Locken, Steven Rahhal and Kary Brittingham, mixed and mingled on the lawn, enjoying the perfect spring weather and snacking on light bites of tuna tacos and strawberry ricotta tartes provided by Headington Companies. Throughout the event, guests, including Mark Porter, Hannah Dunning, Oliver Parr and Karla Schilling enjoyed a sneak peek at over 30 luxury jackets, including pieces from Michael Bush, Joseff of Hollywood, Hive & Colony, Brandon Harris, Ese Azenabor and palmer//harding. The showcase also included archived DIFFA jackets that have been re-donated to the event, including a jacket from actress Delta Burke. Jackets were showcased around the event and in the center by models throughout the evening.
Attendees like Bridget Sommerlatte, Tiffany Forsberg and Chad Collom were able to enjoy a picture-perfect moment at the swing installation while enjoying live tunes provided by DJ Souljah. California-based artist James Peter Henry was on-site painting a live art piece of a dress and jacket worn by style council member Gabriella Monte. The dress and vintage Dolce and Gabbana jacket will also be available for auction in May.
DIFFA Dallas Board Chairman David White took the stage to welcome guests and to remind them why they were all at the event. “Let us all not forget why we are here 31 years later. We are here because so many good saints who are all around us here tonight in the stars died and suffered from HIV and AIDS,” he said. “DIFFA, for all of these years, has poured out their work, energy, and their heart to raise money for AIDS service organizations in North Texas so people don’t ever have to go through that again.”
White then honored and recognized style council members, including Tina Amin and Christi Meril, before welcoming Keith Carlisle to the stage to be recognized for his commitment, talent and energy in designing a jacket every year for the past 31 years.
White welcomed the Patron Preview Party Co-Chairs Rick Castillo and Jennifer Miller to the stage, who were greeted with cheers and love from the crowd, including Catherine Gibson Luba, Colin Luba and JR Hernandez. Castillo thanked board members and sponsors, including the Headington Company. “Thank you to the Headington Company for hosting this great event and providing us with more than just a venue but providing a vehicle with which DIFFA gets to raise the much-needed funds for AIDS service organizations.”
Castillo then passed the microphone to House of DIFFA Co-Chairs Richard Rivas and Haley Clark to make their final pitch before the party. “Boy, do we have a show for you all!” Rivas said.
Clark announced that Tony Award-winning actress and singer Kristin Chenoweth will be hosting House of DIFFA | The List in exactly one month. Rivas then announced the two special guest honorees at the main event. Fern Mallis, one of the founding members of DIFFA New York, the founder of New York Fashion Week, and former executive director of CFDA, will be receiving the Legacy in the Fight Against AIDS Award. Receiving the Excellence in Fashion Award is Ken Downing, the newly appointed creative director for Halston. “Ken said if I am going to do this, I am going to do it right, so we are pulling out all the stops,” Rivas said. The event will include vintage pieces from the Halston vault and some pieces from his newest collection.
“Knowing that Ken Downing, Fern Mallis, and Kristen Chenoweth will be in our midst, this is just a little taste of what the House of DIFFA The List party will be all about,” Clark said. She then reminded to the crowd to make sure and purchase their tables if they had not done so already, as it is going to be a full house and many tables are already sold out. Clark continued, “We do have a seat for everyone, but we need you to buy your tickets, so you can plan your outfit.”
Rivas and Clark both wrapped up their speeches by thanking Ken Weber for his curation of the jackets for the luxury auction and that the bidding was officially open and will close on Saturday, May 13.
* Photo credit: Danny Campbell