Byline: Holly Haber

DALLAS — Michael Faircloth is on a roll. Now known as First Lady Laura Bush’s favorite designer, Faircloth won accolades Saturday night for a different reason: His brown suede trenchcoat clinched the top bid of $11,000 at the 12th annual Dallas Collection gala benefiting the Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS.
The party, which revolves around the sale of 100 denim jackets that have been restyled or decorated by designers and celebrities, has made Dallas the most powerful fund-raising chapter of DIFFA nationwide. This year, the show was expected to net about $350,000 to be distributed to AIDS service organizations in North Texas.
The event was held in the Great Hall of the International Apparel Mart, which donated the space for the evening. MAC cosmetics served as title sponsor, bringing in dance-music star Kristine W to sing a few tunes for the crowd of 1,400. Fossil donated the denim jackets.
Faircloth, whose denim bustier and hot pants sold for $8,500 in last year’s auction, explained: “I always try to focus on things that are very wearable. I always reconstruct the jacket — I never leave it the way it is. It shows more design.”
After Faircloth, the next two top sellers were styled by local fashion designers Turk & Turk for Absolut Vodka, a longtime sponsor, and by local party stylist Two Design Group. Turk & Turk screened full-size images of Absolut ads onto denim panels and linked them together with metal clasps to form a full-length coat that went for $10,000, and came with a case of vodka.
Todd Fiscus of Two Design Group dispensed with denim entirely and created a satin bustier with charmeuse pants, paired with a collar and gloves festooned with handmade silk roses. Bundled with a tulip tour of the Netherlands and a year’s worth of fresh flowers, the ensemble sold for $10,000.
Other participating design firms included Pucci, Jerry Sorbara, Kenneth Cole, Carla Wescott, Leonard of Paris, Nicole Miller, Missoni, Cartier, Whittall & Shon, St. John, Etro, Lela Rose, Guiliana Teso, Moschino, Rocketbuster Boots, Lambertson Truex, Michael Simon, Richard Fischer, Halston Signature by Craig Natiello and Fossil.
Stylist John Clutts incorporated the jackets into a runway show with an Odyssey theme, in which he dressed models in costumes depicting everything from outer space to hot cities on Earth.
Model Jan Strimple was the evening’s star, honored with the Legend in the Fight Against AIDS Award for her service as creative director of DIFFA’s elaborate runway shows from 1996 through 2000.
Bob Mackie flew in to hand the trophy to his longtime friend and colleague.
“I met Jan in 1982 at a trunk show at Lou Lattimore — remember that?” said Mackie of the shuttered designer boutique. “In those days, most fashion models here looked like a cross between Pamela Anderson and a blowup doll. I saw this beautiful creature and I fell in love. [She’s] the legendary goddess, the diva of Dallas.”
Strimple was recognized for her tireless devotion to elevating the DIFFA production to a theatrical event. She created themes and then begged or borrowed appropriate costumes, wigs, makeup, shoes and props from dozens of companies, coordinating hundreds of volunteers to put it all together.
“There are a few people who may have thought, along the way, that there was a pit bull attached to their leg, rather than a 6-foot redhead,” Strimple joked in her acceptance speech.
Strimple said she worked so hard to raise funds for DIFFA because “we all deserve life. We all deserve respect. We all deserve basic human dignity.”