July 02, 2014

Richard Branson Throws A Great Shoreditch Party

Well, well well. Last night was not your average Tuesday night. No no no. It was  a quickly-get-changed-into-a-dress-and-heels (and slap on some fake tan on to one’s pasty legs) after work and RUN like the wind to from Soho to Shoreditch for a fancy PARTY kind of night. I’d been invited to attend Richard Branson’s party by the Virgin Atlantic PR team, to celebrate three things: a) the 30-year-anniversary for Virgin Atlantic (wow) b) the launch of the new Virgin flight attendant uniform (designed by Westwood) and c) a very special person’s birthday (more on this later).

We rocked up to Village Underground in Shoreditch. I think we knew what sort of night we were in for as soon as we saw the big cameras, red carpet and SCHLEBS (celebs) left, right and centre. The good thing about going to a “star-studded” event in London is everyone is so preoccupied with checking up on all the famous people and what they are doing, wearing, drinking, eating, pooing; that as an “Average Joe” you can basically slink around in the corner drinking, people-watching and generally just mooching with no one really looking or caring. And privately gorge yourself on salmon rolls.

The location and the room set-up was amazing. The red was very prominent; red being almost synonymous with the Virgin brand, of course. That red Virgin logo takes me way back to when I used to meet with friends, as a teen, outside Virgin Megastores, where we used to go into those “listening booths” and listen to “new albums” with headphones bigger than frying pans. Long gone are those days. But thirty years on, Virgin is stronger than ever. The walls were covered in the new collection for Virgin, designed, styled and created by Dame Vivienne Westwood. The red shoes, the red leather bags, and the red jackets that look really, actually, properly cool. (We all know how out-dated the “air hostess” outfits are, glad to see someone shaking it up a bit). That is the charm about Virgin, I leant over to my friend Charlotte said “no other airline could pull this off”. It’s true. No other airline could host a rave in the middle of Shoreditch – plus Richard Branson is a genuinely cool and nice guy who likes to have a good time. RyanAir would have hosted a Lidl version. This was Waitrose. 

After having a good look around we sat and had some drinks and canapés. Someone asked if they could sit down on the bit of the sofa next to me and obviously I said “yeah, sure” and mumbled, shuffling up in an unlady-like fashion. Not really looking around properly. My friend Charlotte’s eyes popped. She mouthed (and subtly pointed) “that’s Goldie“.

Soon after, the lights came down and Richard Branson headed to the stage to show a short video montage of the Virgin Atlantic launch clothing with some really nice soundbites from him, Westwood and the wider Virgin team. He invited Vivienne Westwood on to the stage in which she was reluctant at first, he said she was “a bit shy”. She then went for it, and ROLLED ONTO THE STAGE. Literally rolled. And was helped up by some security. I just love her.

Soon after a “special guest” was invited to the stage. Richard Branson’s introduction to her was: “Please wish this special lady a BIG HAPPY BIRTHDAY!” And out from the wings appears Debbie Harry. DEBBIE. HARRY. In a pilot’s hat. In a sequin dress. In the coolest platform shoes ever. We sang to Heart Of Glass, Maria, Hanging on the Telephone, Atomic, you name it. My throat was aching and scratching as I sang along (maybe too) loudly. She is 69 and a still a TOTAL BABE. 

And if that wasn’t enough, Goldie started DJ-ing, played some CLASSIC tunes. And if that wasn’t enough, we bumped into Kelis on the way to the loo and when we came back, Goldie played “Trick Me Once” by Kelis TO KELIS.

KELIS DANCED TO KELIS. That’s like Googling Google. But obviously way better.

All in all, it was the best night I’ve had in ages. It was such a nice occasion to be a part of, to have a big toast to Virgin as a superb growing brand and business, to be in the same room as Richard Branson (swoon! in a non-sexual way) and to meet so many amazing people. Oh, and to breathe in the same air as Debbie Harry for a couple of hours was bloody fantastic. 

More on the launch here, on Virgin’s official site.

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