The parties – ahem – I mean, VIP extravaganzas that coincide with Grand Prix are, without a doubt, some of the most glamourous soirees of the year. So it makes complete sense then, that Sonia Irvine – the founder of Formula 1 Grand Prix’s most-fabulous, not to mention luxurious, chain of pop-up Amber Lounge nightclubs – is one of the most stylish hosts there is. The towering blonde mother-of-two, who also trained as physiotherapist, is the sister of retired driver Eddie Irvine. Her entry to the Formula 1 world began in 1996 when her brother invited her to join him as his personal physio. Irvine’s work soon expanded to include being the therapist for the entire Ferrari team where she earned a reputation as a hard worker within the industry.
It was this same work ethic that has led Irvine to prove her skill as an astute, successful and creative businesswoman. What started as a pop-up VIP event in Monaco has expanded to include nomadic clubs in Singapore, Delhi, Abu Dhabi and Austin and earned the Amber Lounge a reputation as a haven for the rich and famous including everyone from F1 drivers to royalty and Hollywood starlets. In said circles, the events – which celebrate their 10th birthday this year – are the stuff of legend and, attracting a guest list including Prince Albert, Bono, The Edge, Helena Christensen, Wesley Snipes, Heidi Klum, Ronaldo and The Black Eyed Peas – as well as the drivers, of course – it’s not hard to see why.
Having been settled in Monaco for over 10 years now it would seem this successful host has created a life for herself doing something she loves in one of the more beautiful parts of the world. We caught up with Irvine to talk soirees, style and success.
What is your at-home style like?
I am a casual person. I feel at home in Maharishi cargo trousers and a simple white vest top – which helps when you have two children. But I love the fact that I get the opportunity to dress up in Monaco and at the Amber Lounge parties. My eldest daughter is very into fashion and helps me choose my outfits for the night. It’s great fun!
How often do you travel?
I travel all the time since it is part of my job. My next destination will be Abu Dhabi where we will be starting to organise our next event after the Monaco Grand Prix.
Dream house destination and why?
I would love to have a house in Thailand one day. It is paradise on earth and the people there are the friendliest people I have ever encountered.
How has your jet-setting lifestyle influenced your style?
I do like clothes that feel good as well as look good. My wardrobe tends to be divided into categories of business suits, day wear and a special Amber Lounge range I’d describe as ‘sexy glam’. Come to think about it, most of my shopping seems to be done while travelling. I particularly love shopping whilst in Singapore, where we also host an annual Amber Lounge Fashion show with F1 drivers on the runway.
If you had to describe yourself in one word, what would it be?
What is your greatest source of inspiration?
Formula One. I’ve got a lot of respect for the people who work in the industry and I admire their incredibly high standards – everything has to be done yesterday. It is stressful but very fulfilling.
What’s the most amazing event you’ve ever been to?
Too many to name… but I always get this amazing sense of accomplishment after each Amber Lounge Charity Fashion Show because we actually make difference in people’s lives. This year we have chosen the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund to be our official Charity Partner of Amber Lounge Fashion Show Monaco and we hope to raise €1 million to build a hospital ward.
Through my eldest daughter Megan, I have started to actually enjoy tweeting a lot. I am still not a pro but, whenever I find the time, I like to share fun photos and updates about Amber Lounge. You can follow Amber Lounge updates @AmberLoungeLtd
Who is your style icon and why?
I don’t have a particular style icon, but since Amber Lounge Fashion Show was launched in Monaco (and now in Singapore) I am more aware of high fashion. It’s great because I get style tips from the professionals: Matthew Williamson, Margherita Missoni and this year from Paris-based Andrew Gn.
What fictional character do you most identify with and why?
I identify with Jane by Somerset Maugham – she is a strong and kind person who always says what she thinks, isn’t afraid of anything or anyone and most importantly always stays true to herself.
What’s the secret to developing one’s personal style?
The secret is to always keep an open mind and to let yourself be inspired by different people, styles and cultures from around the world.
If you had to wear one outfit for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I go daily to the gym and the office, have to play with my children and attend many events. I am afraid I haven’t found an outfit yet that would suit all of the above.
If your life had a theme song, what would it be?
I Gotta Feeling by the Black Eyed Peas!
Whose home would you most like to steal?
I wouldn’t. I have the homes I want – I can’t ask for any more.
What is your ultimate luxury for the home?
The ultimate luxury for me is time. Time to be at home and spend quality time with my children.
What are your GO-TO CLASSICS:
- I love luxury candles with a fresh and summery scent to them.
- My favourite book is Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield.
- My favourite CD is a mix of my favorite songs for Amber Lounge.
- I can't live without a daily dose of quality time with my daughters.
- My Favourite at-home designer is Armani Casa.