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The Woman Behind Amber Lounge By The Luxury Channel

The Luxury Channel interviews Sonia Irvine; Formula One events mastermind and sister of ex-Ferrari driver Eddie Irvine….

Amber Lounge

We meet Sonia Irvine in London, just a week after she put on a spectacular three-day event over the Monaco Grand Prix race weekend. Her events company, Amber Lounge, provides a luxury nightlife experience for F1 stars, sponsors, and celebrities.

Congratulations on the Amber Lounge Monaco weekend!

Thank you! It was fantastic, such a great event. We had three fantastic nights.

Amber Lounge Fashion, your charity fashion show, was really successful. I hear Heikki Kovalainen donated a huge amount?

He did. For the past three years now I have raised money for the Elton John AIDS Foundation, but this time I wanted to do something that was more socially aware, so the auction prize was very specific. It was to build 320 houses for individuals and families living with HIV. I expected to divide it into lots, so at the end of the day we would have maybe 10 different people who would contribute to building the houses, but in the end Heikki just did it all – he bid 300,000 Euros and so paid for all the houses!

Had you any idea he was planning to do that?

He was actually due to model in the fashion show, along with Lewis Hamilton and the other drivers, but he came up to me just beforehand and said ‘‘Sonia, I’m sorry but I’ve chickened out, I can’t do it!’’ So I told him it was alright and he should just take a seat and watch his girlfriend Katherine, who was also modelling in the show. Anyway, that is why he had done it – he had to be out at the front so that he could bid in the auction.

Amber Lounge

You were a physiotherapist with your own practice before becoming your brother’s physio. How did the transition from F1 physio to Amber Lounge mastermind come about?

A good physio needs people skills and the ability to analyse problems. You solve problems as a physio, that’s just what you do. When I moved into F1, I ended up doing physio for my brother and the Ferrari team, and I also ended up managing his businesses, running his PR schedule, doing a lot of things – I think in those four years, I crammed in eight years of work! So when Eddie moved to Jaguar in 2000, I decided it was time for me to stop and do something different. The launch of his book and the launch of his TV programme was the last work I did for my brother, and while I was organising that, I was approached to negotiate sponsorship deals with drivers. Then I did some consultancy, running black tie events, and it just evolved from there. I realised there was a need for something that all the teams and all the drivers could enjoy, where they could all come together in an environment that didn’t affiliate itself with anyone in particular – and so Amber Lounge was born.

So you were uniquely placed to do something like this?

Formula One is like a big family – every two weeks we meet up somewhere else, so we’re all close, we socialise and they have became my friends. I think partly they pitied me – I worked hard and I gained a lot of respect. So when Amber Lounge came along, they all turned up – Ron Dennis, Flavio Briatore – they were very, very supportive of me. The first year I did Amber Lounge, I was selling thin air – I had no pictures to do a brochure; it was built on trust and reputation. But it was a success.

You’ve taken Amber Lounge to Abu Dhabi and Singapore now – any plans to expand it further?

I do four Amber Lounges a year. I’ve done Barcelona, Monaco, Singapore and Abu Dhabi. When I bring on a new event, I drop an old one. I want to keep them exclusive. I want everyone to look forward to the event.

Why Singapore and Abu Dhabi in particular?

Monaco is the mother event, but Singapore was the first night race so it was exciting. It was definitely the right choice; the people there are very commercially-minded, they do what they say what they’re going to do, and the tourist board worked with us very well. Abu Dhabi is just an exciting place and the circuit they built has to be one of the best circuits in the world – and it’s the last race of the season, of course, so we wanted to go out with a bang.

Amber Lounge

Are you planning to expand Amber Lounge in the future?

I’ll stay with four events a year in F1, but we’ve also been approached to do Amber Lounge events outside of Formula One – in football. Hopefully we’ll be launching that soon, so there’s going to be a lot coming up with that and India.

For more details, visit www.amber-lounge.com.

Formula 1 Takes To The Runway By The Luxury Channel

The annual Amber Fashion Show in Monaco saw F1 drivers take to the catwalk to model for charity….

Amber Fashion Show

Formula One swapped the roar of the engines for the clinking of cocktail glasses in Monaco this week for the MARTINI® sponsored Amber Fashion Show at the luxurious Le Meridien Beach Plaza Hotel.

Stars from the world of sport, film and fashion joined Royalty at the annual Amber Fashion Show. Sir Richard Branson, Olympic track legend Michael Johnson, tennis ace Boris Becker and Little Britain comedy star David Walliams were among the glittering guest list who joined HSH Prince Albert.

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone led the star-studded names from the sport along with reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton, current title pacesetter Jenson Button, Giancarlo Fisichella, Adrian Sutil, Mark Webber, Nelson Piquet, Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel.

It was a family affair for Bernie Ecclestone with daughter Petra, as the leading championship contender Jenson Button swapped the track for the catwalk to model her latest FORM range of menswear.

It was then the turn of the F1 wives, girlfriends and daughters (pictured above) to add their touch of glamour to the evening. Jenson Buttons’ girlfriend Jessica Michibata was joined by Heikki Kovalainen’s partner Catherine Hyde and the Amber Lounge founder Sonia Irvine who, alongside a host of supermodels, then paraded around the hotel’s swimming pool overlooking the Cote D’Azur in Elizabeth Hurley Beach swimwear and show designer Jimmy Choo’s latest collection.

Actress and model Elizabeth Hurley, never one to shy from the cameras, was on hand, with her husband Arun Nayar, to ensure her swimwear range got the best exposure.

Celebrity auctioneer Charlie Ross then sold a Morocco-inspired bar to Prince Albert for a winning bid of 10,000 Euros, whilst Martini’s global brand ambassador Giuseppe Gallo Giuseppe used his cocktail-making skills to mix a drink for American beauty Jessiqa Pace.

The biggest winning bid of the event was 145,000 Euros for an intimate dinner for ten people with Sir Elton John and his partner David Furnish at their villa in the South of France.

Organised by Sonia Irvine, founder of Amber Lounge and sister of F1 legend Eddie Irvine, the annual event raised 340,000 Euros for the Elton John Aids Foundation.

www.amber-lounge.com