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DALLAS — J.C. Penney isn’t known for high-ticket fashion, but it broke into the upper strata Saturday when a jacket created by the chain’s design director, Geoffrey Henning, sold for $35,000 at the annual Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS auction here.

The bidding for the Arizona brand denim jacket, which had been transformed into a fur- and crystal-trimmed full-length coat, was pumped up with extras, including a private party for 100 at the rooftop bar of the W Hotel opening here in June, along with a hotel stay, spa treatments, dinner and a $500 shopping spree. The entire package was donated by Victory Park, the mixed-use project where the hotel is located.

The 17th annual DIFFA benefit called on the talents of more than 100 designers and creative types to remake an Arizona jacket into a wearable work of art for auction. The results ranged from CeCe Cord’s demure denim and leather handbag to Brian Bunch’s Vegas-style costume festooned with a billowing bustle of purple, pink and green peacock feathers.

The party, which had the theme “Live Laugh Love,” was intended to raise a record-breaking $1 million for AIDS service organizations in north Texas, though organizers said they didn’t know yet if their ambitions were realized.

The soiree attracted 2,000 guests, along with hundreds of volunteers who staged a fashion show on a 450-foot runway. A highlight was a performance by Dallas native Erykah Badu and her band.

Emcee Rene Syler of CBS News’ “The Early Show” couldn’t resist stroking the crowd in a ballroom at the Wyndham Anatole Hotel.

“I have been to fashion shows in New York and I’ll tell you what, nothing compares to this,” Syler said.

This story first appeared in the March 23, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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