What ever happened to Issa after Kate Middleton wore it?

Kate Middleton engagement
It caused the ‘Kate effect’ [Photo: Getty/Chris Jackson]

It’s hard to forget that navy blue dress we first saw on the soon-to-be Duchess of Cambridge back in 2010.

Kate Middleton and Prince William had announced their engagement, and while plenty had all of our thoughts directed on (of course) the ring, a certain $535 (£430) dress was garnering most of our attention.

A flattering, smart and luxurious-looking frock, its flattering cut and association with the new bride-to-be was something every woman instantly wanted in their wardrobes.

Kate Middleton and Prince William
“The phones began ringing” [Photo: Getty/Chris Jackson]

Thus Issa quickly became an iconic label. Its designer Daniella Helayel’s pieces were soon under high demand from A-listers such as Madonna and Scarlett Johansson, but also normal women too – the brand sold in 43 different countries and was worth around £27 million at its peak according to Mail Online.

Most of us would assume this would be an incredible thing for a business, so where on earth is the label in 2017?

A few years after the couple’s announcement, Issa – and Helayel – disappeared. Not in a bad stroke of luck following her success, either, but directly because of it – what in the industry is now called the ‘Kate effect’.

Daniella Helayel
Daniella Helayel at London Fashion Week 2013 [Photo: Getty/Ian Gavan]

When Middleton was seen wearing the dress, Helayel told Mail Online “the phones began ringing and didn’t stop”:

“‘From the day of the royal engagement our sales doubled. I didn’t have the money to finance production on that scale.

“The bank refused to give me credit and the factory was screaming for me to pay its bills. I needed an investor.”

So she teamed up with Camilla Al-Fayed, who bought a 51% stake in the business and was a woman she’d known since she was 19.

But in 2012 when a new CEO was hired, she didn’t like the direction things were going in – eventually leading to her departure from the label in 2013.

While she was replaced, the label still sadly closed two years later.

Issa runway
The Issa show at London Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2015/16 [Photo: Getty/Ben A. Pruchnie]

Despite this misfortune, Helayel still insists that Middleton was an excellent customer: “Kate wore Issa for many years. She was a wonderful client and the clothes looked great on her”, she said.

And after years of silence, Helayel is back, after one of her Japanese distributors suggested creating her a new line – which is to be called Dhela (‘hers’ in Portuguese).

There are 80 pieces in the spring/summer collection and 100 for autumn/winter 2017 – and she says that while there will be ‘hints’ of Issa in her new label, it’ll be ‘updated and matured’.

And keep your eye out for some knitwear.

Had you wondered what happened to Issa? Tweet us at @YahooStyleUK.

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