Philanthropy

John Varvatos Draws Amy Adams, Willie Nelson to 11th Annual Stuart House Benefit

The proceeds from the event go toward a program at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center that focuses on helping sexually abused children.
Amy Adams Darren Le Gallo
Associated Press

Designer John Varvatos shut down Melrose Avenue on a sunny Sunday afternoon for his 11th annual event benefiting Stuart House, a program of the rape treatment center at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center that focuses on helping sexually abused children.

About 1,600-1,800 people were expected to attend the event, a charity concert and action held outside Varvatos' boutique at 8800 Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood (near Robertson Boulevard). Varvatos told The Hollywood Reporter that he was hoping to raise $1.3 million-$1.5 million from the family-friendly event (last year's event brought in $830,000 for a total of more than $3.5 million up to that point).

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"This is a big family event; it's not about a big black-tie Hollywood thing -- it's about bringing your kids out to support something that protects your kids," he said. "What we're trying to do is spread the word that sexual abuse isn't acceptable, and kids [who have been sexually abused] can feel like they're not the cause of it, and there's no shame and they can still live a productive lifestyle."

He also marveled at how the benefit, which was presented by Chrysler with a kids tent by Hasbro Studios, has grown since its first year.

"We've gone from a party in my parking lot to shutting down Melrose for blocks, which nobody gets to do," he added.

Amy Adams and her actor-artist fiance, Darren Le Gallo, served as honorary co-chairs of the benefit. Adams told THR that she got involved with Stuart House about five years ago when she was asked to host a brunch there and witnessed firsthand the work of the organization, overseen by its founder and director, Gail Abarbanel.

"Seeing work they did and the impact that it had on the boys and girls, women and men, who are affected by this, it was pretty amazing," she said. "Once I visited, I was kind of in for life."

Added Le Gallo: "Having a [3-year-old] daughter, it's even more close to home, but seeing how everything [at Stuart House] is contained, and it's a really safe environment, and it makes the kids feel comfortable talking about something that is really hard to talk about -- that's huge. Hopefully every state will have one of these eventually."

Adams -- dressed in Tori Burch blazer and blouse along with Rag & Bone jeans -- said she also appreciated the laid-back nature of Sunday's event. "I’m wearing casual clothes on the red carpet," laughed the Oscar-nominated American Hustle actress, who is fresh off the grueling duties of awards season.

The event, produced by 15/40 Productions, drew a slew of famous faces, including Varvatos' former Fashion Star colleague Jessica Simpson, Eric McCormack, Joe Manganiello (who told THR of a possible Magic Mike 2 sequel: "I think we're gonna do it soon, but we haven't set a start date or anything like that"), Donald Faison, Gene Simmons, James van der Beek, Courtney Love (pictured below with Varvatos), Rachel Zoe, KaDee Strickland, Gillian Jacobs and Bill Bellamy.

Those in attendance were treated to a performance by Willie Nelson and his sons Lukas and Micah. "John [Varvatos] and I have known each other for a while," Nelson told THR of how he got involved with the event. "But I wasn't aware he was involved in Stuart House until just recently." (Nelson recently appeared in an ad campaign for Varvatos.)

Attendees munched on food ranging from In-N-Out burgers to Dogtown Dogs hot dogs to wood-fired pizza from Dang Brothers Pizza, which has converted a fire truck into an oven.

Also on display was a 2014 limited-edition Chrysler 300C designed in collaboration with Varvatos that retails for about $60,000. Klaus Busse, head of interior design at Chrysler Group, told THR that the car boasts titanium (not chrome) finish and metallic leather seats, among other special features.

Meanwhile, inside the kids tent, the younger attendees took part in arts and crafts, played various Hasbro board games, were entertained by a magician, played air hockey and foosball, and shot Nerf guns.

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