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S3: 12 Journeys With...

12 Journeys With… Fiona Leahy

Event Designer and Tablescaper, Fiona Leahy speaks to CF’s Sheena Bhattessa about her fabulous career to date.

“Doing events for 15+ years”, Fiona’s passion is “the art of the table”. The zeitgeist of today has seen tablescaping become a tremendously popular thing. Leading the movement: Leahy herself.


In Episode Five, Season Three, the stellar Fiona Leahy, Founder and Creative Director of Fiona Leahy Design, joins Sheena to discuss her tantalising career in event design.

From enchanting Irish weddings to extravagant bashes around the globe, here, Leahy shares her creative inspirations and tales of parties past, plus great event-planning tips and some sage advice vis-à-vis tablescaping.

To listen to Episode Five, Season Three, in full, visit iTunes or Spotify.

Permanently “obsessed with tabletops”, hospitality is in Leahy’s DNA. Growing up in a small hotel, with a restaurant in her basement, (her grandmother also owned a B&B) Leahy acknowledges: “there’s a practicality to setting a table in say a B&B, or a small hotel, but you can elevate it.” What Leahy does is, by her own assertion, “heightened domestic art”.



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With a real appreciation for design and craft – Leahy loves calligraphy, and has “a great respect for embroidery, beadwork, and illustration” – it’s perhaps no surprise then that initially Leahy had her sights set on becoming a fashion designer. Studying Greek and Roman Civilisation and Philosophy – “super handy” – at university, before dropping out, she later tried her hand at “Fashion and Merchandising” though bowed out of that course too. The ‘school of life’ would prove to be her best educator.

“When I moved to New York, I worked for a big producer who worked on the big, big shows” – think Gucci, Anna Sui, and Tom Ford. While in NYC, Leahy met Patti Wilson, who was Fashion Editor for i-D at the time. Wilson was “so busy that […] she started delegating to me”. “I was styling Whitney Houston when she was doing The Preacher’s Wife”. While Leahy loved fashion, she didn’t feel like it was her calling.



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Cue Leahy’s move to London, Jade Jagger’s 30th birthday sleepover at Claridge’s, and a kismet encounter with Dita Von Teese. Teese’s wedding to Marilyn Manson in Tipperary – Leahy’s hometown – was Leahy’s first “proper” event. The high-profile wedding, which had huge visibility, marked a real turning point for Leahy’s career in events. Post-wedding, the Irish creative was called upon to design events for everyone from artists to sheiks, spanning Doha to New York. The rest, as they say, is history…



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A post shared by Fiona Leahy Design (@fionaleahydesign)

For Leahy’s tips on party planning, achieving that ‘wow’ factor, plus anecdotes on the strange and whimsical cargo that have accompanied her home from her travels, tune in via the links below.

Click to listen on iTunes or Spotify.

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