When the fashion world wants to throw a great party, they call on Fiona Leahy. The queen of events has created fantasy worlds for everyone from Louis Vuitton to Christian Louboutin and a seat at her own table is a hot ticket. She showed us how she puts together a Christmas tablescape and shared some of her own festive essentials, from a 24 hour cheeseboard to Fellini on the record player.

'Like a landscape, a tablescape undulates. It has to go up slightly and down slightly, it’s about the eye travelling. There is a symmetry – we would always put candles a certain distance apart and groups of three really work in different heights for flowers, candles and with glasses too. You don’t ever want to obstruct somebody’s vision, especially for something like Christmas entertaining. You want it to be convivial, you want to be able to talk, you don’t want the decorations to take over, that’s a real pet hate – you don’t want to be talking to flowers! You need to be able to see people’s eyes, while lit beautifully by candlelight which I think is the most flattering light. If I could go round the world being lit by candlelight... I think it was Mae West who went around with a huge silver reflective sheet so that her lighting was always great, I would do the same just with a few candles!'


'My festive playlist would feature Bing Crosby and David Bowie, traditional Christmas music, Wham! and Fellini soundtracks like La Dolce Vita. I do like Phil Spektor’s Christmas album and I love the Pogues’ Fairytale of New York - never get tired of that one.

My favourite Christmas drink would probably be a classic champagne cocktail – that says winter to me. I love the angostura bitters and the maraschino cherry. Or a whisky sour. For my Christmas dinner a deep gorgeous red Barollo. 'YOLO Barollo' – that’s my hashtag. I don’t know why but I associate Christmas with cheese boards. Stinking Bishop, crackers, berries, it’s ok to constantly have a cheese board by your side at all times. I love Christmas food so much. I don’t eat meat so I like all the trimmings - roast potatoes, red cabbage, roast Brussel sprouts with chestnuts, or a raw Brussel sprout salad with pecorino cheese. Brussels sprouts are the new kale!'

Make It Personal

'I always want to make people feel welcome and included and I think the way to do that is to have their initials or their name on something. Make them feel like they are seen and wanted - that’s all any of us want on a very primitive level. The Soho Home miniature treats tins are a dream; I would put something in them that reminds me of the person. Do they have a chocolate obsession? They might get a truffle. Does somebody love crystals? I might put a little crystal in theirs.'

Dream Guests

'My ultimate dinner party guest would probably be Oscar Wilde. I think he was one of the most clever, hilarious people. He would love a cheese board and a big glass of Barollo – or a bottle. I would hope he would be really funny and interesting. Also I'd invite Chelsea Handler, I think she’s amazing, really funny and witty. You can have a seat at the table as long as you’re funny and interesting and you don’t take yourself too seriously.'

Fiona's Five Essentials

'1. Candles. On the table I’ve done there’s the Soho Home taller candles and then lower tea lights. 2. Flowers – I love flowers. 3. You’ll always see an element of personalisation on my table; I will scribble people’s names on crackers or fill snow globes with names - we’ve added ribbons with initials to the treats tins. 4. Colour. I would never do a very minimal, pared back white tablecloth with one rose and a candle, that’s not for me. 5. Fun. One of the elements of all of my tables is there’s a real element of fun – you can have a good time, you can pull a cracker, play pass the parcel, all of those things!'

Don't Stress

‘Could you serve fish and chips on fancy plates? Absolutely! I’ve done that and gotten away with it. I run a business, I’ve got two dogs, I can’t spend all day cooking. But I can throw together some prawns and marie rose sauce and make a prawn cocktail, then have fish and chips and call it a day. You don’t need to do it all. Of course the food is important but really it’s about a good time and you don’t want to sacrifice a good time for being someone who’s neurotically stirring a sauce. There’s a huge fallacy in being able to do every single thing. Order in pizza, if you’ve got some truffle in a jar in the fridge, great, but keep it simple.’


'My mother would always put mulled wine on the stove, not to heat it up, but because the smell was better than a scented candle. It’s the ceremony of Christmas eve, having a drink, lighting the fire, lighting the candles. There’s no huge ritual, it’s just that sense of making things cosy and homey. Bringing out the 24 hour cheese board! Indulgence means giving myself a break, just going "ok I really want that thing, I’m going to indulge and not only am I going to indulge, I’m going to indulge fully and not give myself a hard time afterwards." It’s all very well indulging in a welsh rarebit but if you give yourself a hard time afterwards there’s no point. For me it’s 360 indulging. Own it. Own your indulgence.'

Soho House 76 Dean Street

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