Fashion and philanthropy may seem like two disparate worlds—one absorbed in surface appearance, the other concerned with deeper human experiences. But both realms come together in House of DIFFA, Las Vegas’ chapter of Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS, which brings a new flair to Vegas fundraising.
Cray Bauxmont-Flynn, the executive chair of DIFFA Las Vegas, hopes to “change the dynamics of fundraising events. A lot of events are your basic ballroom events: Same auctions, same donors, same sponsors, so on and so forth.” DIFFA has put a different spin on the charity dinner with their “Picnic by Design” functions, where designers create extravagant “picnics” to be bid on; this December 1, House of DIFFA will inaugurate a gala fashion show.
The national DIFFA organization was founded in New York City in 1984 to respond to the growing HIV/AIDS crisis, and DIFFA Las Vegas was born in 2014 to provide similar support in our city. “House of DIFFA benefits seven local AIDS and HIV wellness organizations. All the funds that we raise stay here,” Bauxmont-Flynn says. The House of DIFFA fashion gala, Eden, will be different than any of their previous events—or anything else in town. “I thought this would be a good way to twist it and broaden the outreach to the community,” he explains. “It’s a fashion show, there’s performers, there’s theatrics, philanthropy—just something out of the norm.”
Along with raising money for local nonprofits, House of DIFFA seeks to elevate the profile of Las Vegas’ own fashion community. A series of smaller shows and happenings will lead up to December’s big shindig, providing exposure for both the event and the community. “There is a strong base of fashion designers here, which is not highlighted as much as it should be,” Bauxmont-Flynn says. He hopes that Eden will help bring the Las Vegas fashion community together, just as it is bringing other organizations together. “Beneficiaries from House of DIFFA,” he says, “all do their own annual events yearly, but this is the first time they’ve actually come together and supported each other, for one event, for one cause, for one night.” Hopefully it will only be the first of many such nights. hodlv.org.