What is it about the VIP Style Awards that makes it such a coveted ticket?
Earlier this week, one of the organisers of the Peter Mark VIP Style Awards said there was “even longer waiting list this year” and they were inundated with requests from hopeful guests to buy tickets.
The problem with such eagerness is that tickets are not - and never have been - available for sale, allowing an enduring sense of exclusivity that has followed the event over its 18-year shelf life.
There is a general acceptance among media circles that the VIP Style Awards are a cut above the rest: every year, people try to beg, borrow or steal in order to nab a golden ticket, but what about it makes it so special?
Unlike other red carpet events, it has stood the test of time. While the Irish Film and Television Awards were split into two events back in 2015 and the TV Now Awards were a recession casualty, there are few other opportunities for Irish celebrities to get gussied up just for the hell of it.
With other black tie affairs, tables are purchased, often by brands who bring select guests that align with their ethos, whereas the Style Awards cuts out the middle man entirely - they approve the guestlist in advance and if you're not invited in the first round, you're simply not invited.
Consistency is key when it comes to an abiding legacy: for years, The Shelbourne Hotel played host to the event before moving to its new home at The Marker Hotel in 2013 and Peter Mark has remained its title sponsor since the second year it launched. The categories have remained the same since its debut, with the addition of Best Newcomer, Best Online Influencer and Look of the Year introduced slowly over time; as have glitzier elements of the ceremony like sleek awards you can place above your mantle and time allotted for winners' speeches.
And such is the buzz of pre and post coverage that often times, just being nominated can drum up enough publicity that no one really walks away a loser.
The night itself is always a guaranteed raucous affair. Celebrities of varying influence will descend on the red carpet from 6pm, each of whom patiently queues to have their picture taken by a pit of photographers. They dress to be seen and their appearance is often the culmination of weeks of preparation in custom making a piece with a designer, extensive mood boards or in some cases, a particularly aggressive cycle of teeth whitening.
At the reception, glasses of Bollinger champagne are never allowed to approach empty and the same generous pouring applies inside at dinner. A three course meal with complimentary wine served all night means that by midnight, when the ceremony is winding down, the party is really only just beginning.
Over the course of five hours, secrets are spilled and rumours fly - in the past, there was car-crash people watching with the likes of Katie Price; but now it's more of an all-Irish affair with homegrown gossip to correspond like Twink making her first public appearance since her house was repossessed in 2015 or Gerald Kean and Lisa Murphy's much-hyped reunion after their break-up that same year.
In recent years, publisher Michael O’Doherty has taken his foot off the gas in terms of his famously acerbic speeches; taking his carefully crafted jibes down from a 10 to a 9, while a host will act as a more moderate balance to keep the show on the road.
It’s been the source of outrageous gossip, kiss and tells, back-biting and bickery and that’s before the party descends on the VIP area of Copper's. Often times, the simplest approach is the most effective: free food, free drink, good gossip and an excuse to get dressed up really is all anyone wants, and if you can boost your Instagram engagement while you're at it, then what's not to like?