You might not recognize Fiona Leahy at first glance, but chances are you’ve seen her work. The celebrity party planner’s résumé reads like a VIP event list: She orchestrated Damien Hirst’s exhibition party in the Doha desert, names Dior and Louis Vuitton as regular clients, and has planned parties for the likes of Jade Jagger and Charlotte Olympia.
In Porter’s winter issue, which goes on sale tomorrow, Leahy opens up about her A-list celebrity parties and the entertaining rules she swears by to throw the perfect event, no matter how extravagant or intimate. If you’re expecting guests, these are her top five must-know tips for a party to remember:
- Spend money on one thing that makes your heart sing: “If budget is limited and you love music, better to have an amazing DJ than champagne and a bad sound system,” she says.
- Pay attention to detail: Create little pockets of interest for guests looking to momentarily retreat from the event. Focus on small areas that allow guests to meet new people and intermingle.
- Encourage guests to put down their phones: If you’re planning a large event like a birthday or wedding, hire a photographer who takes flattering pictures so guests don’t feel the need to document the entire party on their phones. The best events are an experience, so make sure your guests engage with each other, not their screen.
- Create an element of surprise: “I love introducing unexpected elements at parties—a unicorn in the garden or a random mariachi band. The important thing is to break from the ordinary for one night,” she tells Porter.
- Add a personal touch: “I really like creating a special signature touch for a party,” she says. “A bespoke neon sign, for example, can be a backdrop for photos and after the party you can put it up at home as a memory of a great night.”