Out & About: House of DIFFA ‘Royalty Untamed’

Design Industries Foundation Fighting Aids (DIFFA) hosted its annual black-tie gala, the Louis L. Borick Foundation House of DIFFA, with the theme “Royalty Untamed.”

More than 1,200 attendees were there to witness to an evening of fashion, musical performances, and an auction.

The auction typically features luxury jackets, and this year’s collection had more than 80, including pieces from Jessica Jesse, Cathey Miller, Travis Austin, Tex Motion, Balmain Paris, and Daniela Pasqualini.

The evening started with a cocktail hour on the red carpet as models showcased the luxury jackets in the silent auction. Other features of the auction included items from Mathew Trent, DHV Artworks, The Rug Company, and Beverly’s.

Patrons were then led to an animal-kingdom-themed ballroom where dancers from the Dallas Black Dance Theater performed to Andra Day’s “Rise Up.” Videos from DIFFA’s grant beneficiaries played throughout the ballroom as the performance went on.

DIFFA Dallas’ board chair Michael Buss welcomed the crowd in a crown and cape as he also introduced this year’s co-chairs Tim Garippa and Jacob Samson. Garippa and Samson shared their passion for DIFFA and discussed the night’s purpose: to pay homage to those who have tirelessly advocated for the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Board members then gave awards to recipients including Steven Borick, The David White Legacy of Love Award; Rev. Dr. Neil G. Thomas, Legend in the Fight Against AIDS Award; Steven Pace, The Donna Fishel Community Hero Award; and Keith Carlisle, Excellence in Design Award.

The dinner service then began as Q the Band performed songs by Dua Lipa, Whitney Houston, and Beyonce.

Buss took the stage again to introduce comedian and auctioneer Dana Goldberg who started the live auction where guests could bid on items including an Aspen Gay Ski Week, a week in Puerto Vallarta for twelve, a Colorado retreat, a shopping spree, a cruise, and a spa trip. One winner, the recipient of the Crested Butte Vacation package, wanted to re-donate the item for someone else to bid on to bring in more funds for DIFFA.

Goldberg then invited Steve Borick to the stage who announced the Fund-A-Grant goal where Borick challenged the crowd that every dollar donated would be matched.

Following the audience’s cheers to that announcement, Goldberg invited Bella Gray to the stage to showcase a dress she designed and to say a few words to the crowd. Event co-chair Tim Garippa had spoken about Bella earlier in the night.

“Bella is a queen in her own right and a great example of what led to tonight’s theme, Royalty Untamed,” Garippa said. “Our vision stemmed from the desire to recognize the diverse spectrum of contributors in the fight against HIV/AIDS.  Whether supporting local initiatives, making an impact on the global stage, or helping influence others to reduce stigma, our world has been shaped by the tireless efforts of many around us…our own version of royalty.”

Gray spoke about her story with one of DIFFA Dallas’ grant beneficiaries Elevate North Texas.

“I have heard a few people say that they are surprised that I am here tonight, and maybe if they had left the backstage door unlocked, I wouldn’t be here,” Gray said.

“In all honesty, four months ago when I got kicked out of my house for not being accepted, I didn’t think I would be here either,” she continued. “Four months ago, I wished I wouldn’t be here and I wished I wasn’t alive because I thought the only thing that life had to offer was the pain and suffering, I had felt the first 18 years of my life. But Elevate really stepped in at a time when I needed the most and since then I have met such amazing people that have showed me that life is more than the pain, lies and the hurt I felt.”

Goldberg then started the Fund-A-Grant where moved audience members quickly raised over a quarter of a million dollars, more than doubling the previous Fund-A-Grant record.

Following the record-breaking moment, Goldberg introduced the fashion show which featured animal-kingdom-themed outfits, royalty-inspired clothing, and, of course, the DIFFA Jackets. The SMU marching band also participated during the show’s grand finale. The chairs then led attendees to the after-party downstairs where the party continued.

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