From Dita Von Teese and Marilyn Manson’s wedding to a Yayoi Kusama event for Louis Vuitton and Nat Rothchilds 40th birthday in Montenegro, Irish-born Creative Director and founder of her eponymous brand, Fiona Leahy Design, has designed parties, events and dressed windows for them all.
Including windows for Christian Louboutin and bespoke events for Stella McCartney, they seek her out for the perfect table settings, opulent window displays or the most extravagant bespoke party items – like the personalised snow globes she created for the Louis Vuitton Christmas client dinners.
After six years lending her decadence and je ne sais quoi to some of the most star-studded parties, Fiona shows no sign of slowing down. Quite the contrary: “I am branching out into interiors and launching a party at-home shop,” she revealed when we chatted at her studio in Kensal Rise.
The glamorous party queen took us inside her wardrobe to talk personal style, current obsessions and her too-cute doggy, Riley (a Russell terrier).
1. What does a typical working week entail?
It varies so much and that’s why I love it. I do love studio days when I am not on location. I brainstorm with my team, create concepts, visualise, have meetings and play for way too long with my dog Riley – the worlds biggest distraction. I love travelling for work too, I get to explore places I may not otherwise see. Next week for example we are in Azerbaijan, a month ago we were in Montenegro.
2. If you had to describe yourself in one word, what would it be?
3. What is your greatest source of inspiration?
Other creative people. I love spending time with people who love what they do from food historians to calligraphers – I love a creative nerd.
4. Who is your style icon and why?
Gwyneth Paltrow always looks amazing, radiant, healthy and stylish.
5. What is your wardrobe secret?
A lint roller.
6. Biggest splurge in your wardrobe?
My new cashmere YSL coat – the most expensive thing I have ever bought without a discount that wasn’t a gown. It feels very grown up and I will wear it forever.
7. Biggest steal in your wardrobe?
A black fur coat by Louis Vuitton, bought when I was taken as a guest to the Louis Vuitton directors’ sample sale. It was a 100th of the original price. I could never afford to replace it. My suitcase went missing recently and that was in it, luckily I got it back.
8. If your life had a theme song, what would it be?
Good Vibrations by The Beach Boys.
9. Current obsession?
Vintage trolleys to serve drinks from. I love anything from a trolley – desserts, martinis – they ooze old-school glamour. Clothes-wise, I adore floor-length gowns – my favourite are vintage Dior gowns from my friend Sophie’s store, Merchant Archive.
10. How would you describe your style?
11. What’s the secret to developing one’s personal style?
To know (and celebrate) your body type and shape, to dress accordingly and consistently and not be swayed by trends. Buy and wear what you love, not what you think you should love. And above all, dress for yourself!
12. If you had to wear one outfit for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Probably a black Ossie Clark floor-length dress with Chanel cuffs and a big smile.
13. Do you have any memories from your childhood surrounding dressing up?
I always loved unusual things and I remember going to school wearing a biscuit-coloured woolen cape with a fox-fur hood and a gold chain to hold it together, and being very ridiculed! I always adored shoes and obsessed over them – I will always remember my first [pair of] shoes with a heel, they were for my first communion and my aunt sent them to me from America – white, patent with a wedge. I was also very inspired by Princess Diana and copied her hairstyle when I was 12 – it was my dream to look like her.
14. What are your favourite home brands?
At-home designers: I like vintage for the home – Ernest Race, Maison Jansen. I also adore Warren Platner, I adore the The Rug Company and have bought some brilliant rugs from them. And Merci for their homewares – I have a giant linen sofa that I bought from them which is beautiful.
15. What can’t you live without?
My Charlotte Olympia cat flats, my Lanvin flat boots and my Louis Vuitton Lockit bag – it holds everything.
16. Whose home would you most like to steal?
The interior designer Kelly Wearstler.