The late great songwriter Allee Willis was celebrated Wednesday night with a fashion show and party benefiting the Willis Wonderland Foundation.
Willis, whose credits included the Rembrandts’ “I’ll Be There for You,” better known as the “Friends” theme song, Earth Wind and Fire’s “September” (yesterday was the 21st) and a gaggle of disco-era hits, started the foundation to support the arts in underserved communities. She passed away from a cardiac event in 2019 at age 72.
“She was a visual artist, performer, collector, party thrower extraordinaire with a whole amusement park full of kitsch-tastic colorful fashions,” Willis’ partner and the foundation’s CEO Prudence Fenton said. “Everything she did was all about making people happy. She lived to inspire others to express their own inner and outer creativity in every way. Creating art and music makes life worth living.”
Night of Wonders, held at Valentine DTLA, was hosted by RuPaul, Lily Tomlin, Luenell, Paul Reubens and Jenifer Lewis. The fashion show featured bold-faced names including Rose Abdoo (“Hacks” and “Reboot”) and Lesley Ann Warren, modeling pieces from Willis’ closet that were also up for auction. Willis’ signature style was on full display, with many pieces emphasizing what was described as “kitschy clown couture.”
As of Thursday morning, more than $200,000 was raised with additional donations and auction wins to be counted.
On stage, looking out at the crowd, Luenell said, “I don’t know about you but I’m getting Studio 54 vibes.”
Party-goers also included “Hacks” actor Christopher McDonald, Telma Hopkins, Nicolette Sheridan, Stephanie Allain and Stephen Bray.
As guests made their way to the valet at the end of the evening, they received copies of the “Allee Willis Cut-Out Paper Doll Book,” which featured, once again, Willis’ colorful ensembles.
Willis Wonderland is also the name of Willis’ iconic North Hollywood abode, which now hosts the foundation’s artist-in-residence programs. Shortly before Willis’ death, the home was the location of Variety‘s iconic cover shoot of Billie Eilish.
For more on the foundation, go to williswonderland.org.