By  on March 7, 2002

Fashion was foremost at Dallas' annual denim jacket auction benefiting the Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS.

At its runway show Saturday night, the charity showed 135 Levi's jackets embellished by various designers over spring fashions supplied by Neiman Marcus, Escada, Michael Faircloth, Daniel Swarovski and Forty-Five Ten.

The style differed from DIFFA shows in recent years, when the jackets have been modeled with theatrical costumes and headdresses in themed runway scenes.

"It took up the wearability of what we sell, because it made it look more like fashion and less like costume," said Todd Fiscus, who chaired and produced the show and also runs a local event production firm called Two Design Group. "But we did do the 'Moulin Rouge' scene and a heavy rock scene."

The sale of the jackets has proven an effective fund-raiser for the charity, and this year's DIFFA Dallas Collection is expected to net about $400,000 to support AIDS service organizations in North Texas.

True to its organizers' passion for a lively production, the show was no less dramatic than previous extravaganzas, highlighted this year by a 50-piece on-stage orchestra, indoor fireworks and closing songs performed by R&B singer Martha Wash. Hosted by TV personality Leeza Gibbons, the event's theme was "Pure," representing DIFFA's focus on helping people living with HIV and AIDS.

The festive show and dinner drew more than 1,300 people to the Great Hall of the International Apparel Mart, including Allen Questrom, chairman and chief executive officer of J.C. Penney Co., and his wife, Kelli, the event's honorary chairs.

Kelli Questrom told the crowd she had been unable to persuade her husband to join her at the podium.

"He said this was a bigger boardroom than he was used to," she joked.

For the second year running, local designer Michael Faircloth styled the top-dollar jacket. He sewed a black leather jacket with denim trim adorned with glittering pave-diamond white gold buttons supplied by Vivid Collection. He sewed that jacket overnight, to replace a similar style in seal fur that generated controversy when it was shown on local television last week in a preview of the DIFFA auction.

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