internationale Presse
28. November 2016
The Sunday Times
Cillian O’Connor
Champagne-supernova
Champagne supernova
Famed for her opulent, meticulously curated parties, Leahy got her big break planning the wedding of the burlesque star Dita Von Teese to shock rocker Marilyn Manson in 2005. A spectacularly gothic affair, the ceremony was held at Castle Gurteen in Co Tipperary, owned by Austrian artist Gottfried Helnwein.
Christian Louboutin and Dita von Teese at her wedding with Marilyn Manson at Castle Gurteen le Poer
2005
For some, party planning is a serious chore. For others, it’s a chance to shine — an opportunity to create a wondrous experience that leaves guests wanting more. So it is for Fiona Leahy, the London-based Irish events stylist who the likes of Dior and Christian Louboutin keep on speed dial.
Famed for her opulent, meticulously curated parties, Leahy got her big break planning the wedding of the burlesque star Dita Von Teese to shock rocker Marilyn Manson in 2005. A spectacularly gothic affair, the ceremony was held at Castle Gurteen in Co Tipperary, owned by Austrian artist Gottfried Helnwein, and launched Leahy as a master of party artistry. The wedding breakfast — centred on a baronial table covered with black Irish linen tablecloths, ruby-coloured Swarovski crystals, black and gold skull-shaped candles and 4,000 black and crimson roses — earned her spreads in Vogue and The Sunday Times Style.

Not all her ideas require a billionaire’s budget, however. She recommends shimmer curtains (€4; amazon.co.uk) to “disco up” any room and joke-shop chattering teeth for amusing place-card holders, while a room full of balloons brings the wow factor minus the overdraft. Easy does it, though — the ever-elegant Leahy always errs on the side of good taste. “I always pick one element that I really want to shine,” she says, “although, at Christmas, I’d be more decoration-heavy — lots of flowers, miniature Christmas trees and good lighting. I put tapered candles, tealights and fairy lights wherever I can to add warmth, glamour and intimacy.” And you’ll often find a Lucky Voice karaoke machine at one of her parties. But, she warns, “make sure you have wine to give to your neighbours the next day”.

Perhaps Leahy’s most sought-after skill is her ability to personalise a dining table with, for example, monogrammed or illustrated napkins and mini personalised Delft clogs. “They make people feel seen, anticipated and wanted,” she says. Unlike the mahogany boxes containing Henry Jacques perfume worth £500 a pop, which she once organised for a Middle Eastern wedding, these touches needn’t break the bank. “It could be as simple as painting someone’s name on a snow globe.”

Speaking to Leahy, it’s instantly obvious why clients hire her: she’s warm and vivacious, the very definition of great craic. There’s an infectious enthusiasm in the way she recounts events — such as a recent anniversary party she masterminded on Mustique featuring a DJ flown in from London, a huge inflatable oyster shell, African Dutch wax tablecloths and tropical plant displays — that makes you yearn for that elusive invitation.

Is being Irish the secret of her success? “I don’t think we take ourselves so seriously,” she says. “We’re self-deprecating and we know how to make fun of ourselves. I think that’s essential when it comes to parties — if you take yourself too seriously, you can never have that great a time.” We’ll drink to that.

Dita von Teese at her wedding night at Cstle Gurteen le Poer
2005
Gottfried Helnwein, Lisa Marie Presley and Dita von Teese at the wedding, Castle Gurteen le Poer
2005
2005




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