Drivers on FORM for charity at Amber Fashion 24 May 2008
Rarely has a new fashion line been introduced with the kind of fanfare seen in Monte Carlo on Friday evening when Petra Ecclestone, daughter of Formula One CEO Bernie, unveiled her latest brainchild, FORM. Given that the Monaco Grand Prix is always populated by those from the upper end of the showbiz and finance worlds, what better place than the Principality to launch a top-end menswear range - especially when you have Formula One drivers as your models!
The FORM debut was among the highlights of the Amber Fashion event, held in aid of the Elton John Aids Foundation, and attended by just the sort of men regularly seen in some pretty sophisticated outfits - Lakshmi Mittal, the Indian steel tycoon, Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of Global Advertising Group WPP, Dr Vijay Mallya, Force India team owner and CEO of Kingfisher Airlines, plus fashion literati including retail entrepreneur Philip Green and Renault's very own style icon, Flavio Briatore.
But it was the FORM models who stole the show - the sight of no less than seven Formula one drivers swinging their hips and flirting with the audience from the catwalk proved a sensation. Lewis Hamilton and David Coulthard floated elegantly by; Nico Rosberg displayed a natural talent for presenting clothes; sporty Mark Webber almost sprinted the platform; and a gorgeous Nelsinho Piquet sported a devil-may-care manner. Normally somewhat eccentric dresser Vitantonio Liuzzi was transformed in urban chic, as was a stylish Jenson Button, and Adrian Sutil kept his chin in the air like a true professional. And last but not least there was Kimi Raikkonen. The Finn was not on the catwalk, but he was there in the front row, showing off a precious leather jacket from the collection.
The show got a rapturous reception and afterwards designer Petra Ecclestone received a huge bouquet from Button - and the obligatory peck on the cheeks - along with a standing ovation. Among those singing her praises was sister Tamara, who along with Steve Ryder from British F1 broadcasters ITV, was the presenter for the evening. The FORM menswear was followed by female beachwear, with the Elizabeth Hurley collection combining perfectly with Jimmy Choo shoes - the 12 centimetre-plus heels made the models larger than life. And as Monte Carlo is a city of diamonds, Chopard presented its new collection.
The finale of the evening was the charity auction, with five lots of unique character. Elton John donated an invitation to his 2009 Oscar night reception - this year it was attended by the likes of Harrison Ford, Sharon Stone, George Clooney - including return business class flights from London and accommodation for two in Los Angeles. A lucky bidder got that treat for 46.000 Euro. The second item on the shelf was a Chopard unisex watch from Elton Johns collection, and Vijay Mallya won that for 100.000 Euro. The 1974 vintage Corvette from the personal collection of Sharon Stone saw a fierce battle - Kimi Raikkonen left the field victorious, the price tag a cool 200.000 Euro.
Then there was the luxury week onboard the Indian Empress - the 95-metre super yacht owned by Vijay Mallya. That found a home for 375.000 Euro -even the booze is included, added Mallya with a wink. Finally the icing on the cake: a piano from Elton John on which he wrote Songs from the West Coast. Again Mallya could not resist: for 226.000 Euro he has a new addition for the Indian Empress - and as auctioneer Charlie Ross asserted, this piano will turn any owner into a natural player.
At the end of a splendid evening, Elton Johns partner David Furnish - present on behalf of the Foundation - happily walked away with a cheque for almost 950.000 Euro - though not before shaking hands with Vijay Mallya!