“Big Bird, it’s so nice you came to the Elton John AIDS Foundation this year,” Eric McCormack joked of his sidekick Heidi Klum.
It’s true — she was looking a bit Muppet-like at the Oscars bash, sprouting yellow plumage by Georges Hobeika. But as the two continued their banter onstage welcoming the crowd, she got her moment.
“We are all human, we are all the same, it doesn’t matter who you love, we all have to be better citizens and stop pointing fingers,” Klum said, spreading the love, which seemed to be the unofficial theme of Sunday’s Oscars night, where the bonkers metaverse-wrapped touching family story “Everything Everywhere All at Once” won big.
Elton John had been front and center for the spectacular Versace runway show on Thursday night in Los Angeles. And on Sunday, Donatella was there to support the superstar at his event.
Her late brother Gianni was a great friend and collaborator of John’s, helping him fundraise for his foundation, designing T-shirts for his tours, and more, while John composed songs for the designer’s shows and performed at his parties.
Donatella was Elton’s date, sitting close for the viewing party and fundraising event, which raised a record $9 million this year.
Part of that was from a Versace auction item, one of the hottest of the night, which included seats for a runway show and two outfits. After a fierce round of bidding, the “Ultimate Versace Experience” went for $100,000, and at the last minute the fashion house doubled down and offered two.
Brooke Shields, Maggie Rogers, Emma Watson, Christina Hendricks, Chris Pine, Caitlyn Jenner and Brandon Maxwell were among others who came out to support, with some taking the stage to speak about the cause.
Because of inequities, including lack of access to tools for prevention, “transgender women are 66 percent more likely to contract HIV than the general population. Staggering,” Michaela Jaé Rodriguez told the crowd, urging them to text and donate.
Guests were chauffered to the party in Cadillacs, sipped Don Julio, and posed for videos wearing Elton John Eyewear during cocktails under a big tent erected in West Hollywood. Then they were funneled into the dining room for the broadcast, dinner and a performance by Japanese pop star Rina Sawayama.
Sawayama and John hit the stage together to sing “Chosen Family,” with the feel-good lyrics: “We don’t need to be related to relate; we don’t need to share genes or a surname; you are, you are my chosen, chosen family…”
After appearing via video last year, when Oscar night conflicted with a rescheduled Nebraska concert date, John was clearly enjoying being back in his role as chief fundraiser.
“Two weeks ago David and I went to South Africa where we met incredible young people and LGBT+ groups living healthy lives thanks to our support,” he said of his work with husband David Furnish. “We have saved 5 million lives and reached 100 million people.…Ending AIDS is within our grasp.”