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An eye for the extraordinary

Welcome to this edition of Gladstonian Journal, in which we share our passion for journeys, craftsmanship and a love of finely edited elegance. This month our Guest Editor Denise talks to Bruce Russell, events planner extraordinaire

Now that we’re allowed to travel and celebrate once more, it’s a great time to plan events. But before you start, take a look at the elegant teal blue and gold of Bruce Russell’s website – and you’ll see the subtle but telling strapline ‘Extraordinary Events’.  The Extraordinary reference is the promise of what sets Bruce apart from his peers: his beautifully orchestrated, theatrically produced occasions that bear his unique hallmark and flair.
Now, as you’d imagine, with the Season upon us, Bruce is a very busy guy. But like the gentleman that he is, he found time for us, to tell us his wonderful story and even impart some top tips to help make the perfect celebration!

“I'm a Canadian-born Londoner and like many Canadians I'm fluent in French. This stands me in good stead for my international portfolio.

I’ve called Britain home for over a decade, but growing up on Canada’s East Coast, where family gatherings are big and parties are a-plenty, I realized at a young age that celebrations hold the key to our most treasured memories. 
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a passion for entertaining and an eye for the extraordinary.
After twenty years in hospitality management working for some of the world’s most exclusive hotels, such as New York’s The Plaza, and London’s Savoy Hotel, I took a deep breath and launched Bruce Russell Extraordinary Events.
I just love making magic...
Be it a multi-day destination celebration or an intimate soirée in a private home, I believe that when people gather to celebrate, magic happens. My passion is to cultivate that magic by creating one-of-a-kind moments and bespoke magical experiences. 

"Black tie" at the Dorchester with a beautiful bride & groom
"Black tie" at the Dorchester with a beautiful bride & groom

My ‘little black book’ is truly international and includes the crème-de-la-crème from the worlds of gastronomy, entertainment, design, fashion and photography

To deliver the care my clients deserve I lead a team of specialists who bring their collective experience to bear in delivering outstanding occasions. My modus operandi of utmost professionalism, strategic counsel and unparalleled access ensure that my team and I deliver the most unique quality experiences for every celebration.

"Floral Experience" in gold and purple, at the Pompadour Ballroom, Hotel Cafe Royal
"Floral Experience" in gold and purple, at the Pompadour Ballroom, Hotel Cafe Royal

Event production should be a piece of theatre!

I like to think of myself as a theatre producer, bringing actors and elements together to create the most memorable, often flamboyant stagecraft and, of course, fun.

Kensington Palace hosts a "fantastical" experience
Kensington Palace hosts a "fantastical" experience

We’ve staged some amazing events
From world-class, far-flung weddings and parties to more intimate occasions in some of London’s most impressive locations and private homes. We draw on creativity, passion and flair, coupled with a keen eye for detail and nuanced touches, making for unforgettable and extraordinary experiences. All is revealed on our Instagram page @brucerussellevents

A "castle guard" attends a "rose escort card  tree" at a wedding at Catello Orsini-Odescalchi, Rome
A "castle guard" attends a "rose escort card tree" at a wedding at Catello Orsini-Odescalchi, Rome
Discretion is at the heart of what we do
We may have looked after some superstars, but we don’t like to name names, and often, we can’t.  But we’ve had the privilege of staging events for dignitaries, sporting legends, celebrities and theatrical royalty.
My tips for a gold standard event
The smallest of details can have a lasting impact.  Big wow moments such as floral walls are great but having your initial embroidered on a linen napkin tied with a soft ribbon is a touch of class and elegance that can be memorable
Plan your event with your guests in mind – put yourself in their shoes to see what their experience will be, from the moment they walk in until time they spend at the table
Touch points – consider every item that the guest will touch or encounter. People remember touch points
Always have a Plan B (C, D and event E!!) – plan for the worst-case scenario. Always! 
Don’t underestimate the power of great lighting
Keep your guests entertained – if there is ‘dead time’ where nothing is happening, people will get bored and suddenly those wow moments are forgotten
It's all in the details - one of Bruce's "boho" table scapes
It's all in the details - one of Bruce's "boho" table scapes

We are blessed with wonderful testimonials and a fabulous media profile
There’s nothing like getting recognition for your work and we’ve appeared in an array of glossies from Brides, Tatler, Country & Town House, Mayfair magazine, Luxury London and Harper’s Bazaar.
I’m one hundred per cent creative on my clients’ behalf but I have my own personal style, too
In a sense, I work as a curator and not surprisingly I have a distinct sense of style within my own life, some of which inspired my own brand design. 

Blue is my staple wardrobe colour
Here I am sporting it on a trip to Jaipur, framed by an exotic blue background. Travel is part of who I am, and a great source of inspiration in what I do.

Fragrance is important to me. My go-to scent is Jo Malone’s Wood Sage & Sea Salt.
I’ve snapped it perched atop a favourite book of art by American photographer Slim Aarons. The scene on the cover, ‘Poolside Gossip’ – that’s my retirement goal! 

While chilling by that pool, I’ll be sipping on endless glasses of Whispering Angel, my favourite rosé.
I’m in a WhatsApp group with two of my dearest friends and our group name is ‘The Whispering Angels’.  What could be better than catching up with dear friends over a glass of rosé.

I have a full-on life, which I thoroughly enjoy, but I do need my me-time and a place to escape and ‘reset.’  
I am happiest when I’m by the ocean, and I recently discovered that West Wittering beach is only 45 mins from my home, and it has since become that very place.

Of course, elegant travel demands exquisite luggage

I love the Gladstn London brand, their heritage products are hand-made in Italy and immaculate in quality. They’re innovative, too. They’ve designed an ingenious ‘hat bag’, created in collaboration with couture milliner J Smith Esquire. It’s large enough for a wide brimmed hat and small enough to take on your flight for a trip away, to sport around town or to keep your millinery fresh for a special occasion. It’s the perfect travel buddy!

The Hat Bag designed by Gladstn London in collaboration with J Smith Esquire
The Hat Bag designed by Gladstn London in collaboration with J Smith Esquire
I love London, and when I get back from my travels, I ground myself by visiting my favourite haunts: 
  • Breakfast at the Wolseley is always a treat and the perfect start to any day
  • If I find myself with some time in between meetings I love to sit on a bench in Mount Street Gardens in Mayfair.  It’s an oasis of calm in the middle of a buzzing city.
  • I always lose track of time when sharing a glass (or bottle) of rosé with friends at Claridge’s Bar.
Whenever I’m hosting an event, I have to I look immaculate
I’ve got a Bruce Russell packing regime to keep creases to a minimum and my wardrobe spruce and sparkling fresh.

I’m going to finish by giving you some packing intel:

  • Invest in a great travel steamer!  You won’t regret it.  The Steamery is my go-to brand.
  • Packing cubes for your luggage are a godsend. Most amazing invention ever.
  • Always carry essentials and a change of clothes in a carry on. My luggage has travelled to places I’ve never even been!
  • I admire people who can pack light – not me!  When in doubt I pack it.  Shoes, blazers, toiletries …. bulky and heavy I’m afraid!

All that’s left is to wish you Bon voyage!

To find out more about Bruce Russell visit his website here
Bruce was speaking to Denise Barrett, Guest Editor and author of Handbag Homage

We love to chat bags, luggage and all things craftsmanship so if you've got any feedback on this edition of the Gladstonian Journal or any suggestions for us, do get in touch
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