By Vivienne Bardot
I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Sonia Irvine, the founder, heart, and brains of one of the most prestigious Formula 1 events: Amber Lounge!
I asked Sonia how the idea of Amber Lounge came about, and she explained it was simply a matter of filling a hole in the market. She realized that F1 lacked a true VIP element outside of the racing circuit. Many of the pilots were celebrities in their own right, who mingled amongst themselves and racing fans. This relatively closed network included Sonia’s brother, Eddie Irvine, the ex-Team Ferrari F1 champion. So Sonia intelligently leveraged her experience and connections, and in 2003, launched the very first Amber Lounge during the Monaco Grand Prix.
During the next 14 years, the Amber Lounge brand has grown to become THE VIP party and networking experience on the F1 circuits, including India, Shanghai, Barcelona, Valencia and Austin, Texas. Still, there is an exclusive feel, with events limited to only four Formula One racing circuits per year. In 2017, Amber Lounge will take part in the Monaco, Singapore, Mexico City and Abu Dhabi Grands Prix, offering privileged guests the opportunity to step inside the exciting world, and nightlife, of Formula One racing.
Philanthropically, Amber Lounge has raised funds for charities throughout the years, including the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the Elton John Aids Foundation, the Tereza Maxová Foundation for underprivileged children and notably, the Princess Charlene Foundation, with Special Olympics and implementing “Learn to Swim” and “Water Safety” awareness programs to prevent drowning.
“Giving back to charity has become a core part of our philosophy”.
Each cause supported by Amber Lounge has been close to the heart of CEO Sonia Irvine, perhaps none more so than this year’s calling: Sir Jackie Stewart’s Race Against Dementia.
Sonia met the legendary F1 pilot in Singapore, and the two shared experiences: Sonia’s mother, Kathleen, was diagnosed with dementia, as Stewart’s wife, Lady Helen, had recently been. According to Sonia, “Dementia is an epidemic. One in three people in their lifetime will be diagnosed with dementia, and when you are diagnosed, there is only one way it is going… “.
Amber Lounge has teamed up with Race Against Dementia in 2017, “to fund breakthrough and innovative dementia research” and help change the course of this devastating illness; also, of course, to raise awareness: As a physiotherapist, and especially since her mother’s diagnosis, Sonia Irvine has been speaking out about the dangers of developing dementia, and the urgent need of research to take on this terrible and persistently progressive health crisis. Initially, Sonia found it was a struggle to discuss the topic publicly without tears, but now asserts, “People should not be embarrassed to talk about dementia when it happens to a family member. Unless we raise the profile of dementia, nothing much will change. We hope to bring all of the ongoing and existing research under one roof, where it will fight together to find a cure.”
The Amber Lounge Race Against Dementia Gala will take place on Friday, May 26th, kicking off in true ‘Amber Fashion‘: A glamorous runway showcasing exclusive designs by SAAFiYAA and bespoke suits and silk scarves by, respectively, Apsley Tailors and Silvya Neri, will be walked by F1 drivers and F1 ladies, followed by an auction to exceed expectations! Amongst the fabulous prizes awarded will be unique framed artwork by Lithuanian painter and filmmaker Arunas Rutkus, a personal vintage champagne package from HATT et SÖNER, and rare and dedicated motor racing photographs, memorabilia and experiences from the coveted collections of Sir Jackie Stewart himself.
An exquisite Asian-style dinner overlooking the Mediterranean Sea comes next in this evening, followed by the much-anticipated Monaco Amber Lounge itself – a VIP nightlife tour de force with international live acts, well-known DJs, A-list and C-level guests, and celebrities from the world of F1 racing mingling together, united in the perfect lifestyle setting, to support and promote a life-changing cause!
All of the evening’s proceeds will benefit the Race Against Dementia Foundation (which you may also visit online to support anytime: RaceAgainstDementia.com and/or JustGiving.com/race-against-dementia) and a simultaneous silent auction takes place on the Amber Lounge website (Amber-Lounge.com)… so SAVE THE DATE:
WHEN: Friday, May 26th, 2017
WHERE: Le Méridien Beach Plaza Hotel Monte-Carlo
22 Av. Princesse Grace, 98000 Monaco, France
For additional information or to RSVP (and keep your FOMO levels low :), contact VIVIENNE.
“Amber Lounge is a one-of-a-kind experience that one has to live at least once in this life!”