By  on February 28, 2008

DALLAS — The DIFFA Dallas Collection, the annual auction of refashioned denim that benefits AIDS service organizations, attracted more than 120 stylists and 500 volunteers to raise funds for AIDS research.

Dallas, which bills itself as the largest chapter of the Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS, celebrated its 19th annual auction with a circus-size spectacle for 1,800 guests that included acrobatic displays, live music and a fanciful runway show spotlighting the refashioned jackets.

Dallas Collection fashions began life as Arizona-brand denim jackets supplied by J.C. Penney Co. Stylists, ranging from local students to well-known designers transformed the jackets into objects of style, wit and flamboyance, from a subtle denim capelet to a voluminous peacock-embroidered silk cape.

Badgley Mischka sequined its jacket with a skull and crossbones, and local real estate broker Shawn Christopher Suarez appliquéd a big fuzzy yellow SpongeBob across the back of his. Other jackets were painted, bejeweled, feathered and otherwise gussied up or, in some cases, reduced to trim on a wholly new garment.

The event on Saturday at the Hilton Anatole Hotel here sought to net $800,000 for the charity. The final tally was not available. Last year's auction generated $500,000.

"If we made it [the $800,000 goal] that's great, and if not every little bit helps," said Gretchen Kelly, the chapter administrator.

The auction of 10 of the most eye-catching jackets, each bundled with a bonus, traditionally inspire the highest bids. Top honors this year went to a denim, ostrich and brocade duster lined in printed silk by Dallas designer Abi Ferrin that was paired with a six-day African safari and London stopover that sold for $15,500.

Other packages included a trip to Puerto Vallarta, spa treatments and designer shopping sprees and a trip to the Kentucky Derby.

Silent auction jackets sold for $150 to $5,000 each.

Among the participating designers were Kenneth Cole, who supplied his 18th annual jacket, six Dallas Fashion Award winners, including Nicole Miller and Lafayette 148, and dozens of local designers and artists.

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