Did Kate Middleton really ruin a designer's entire label? The "Kate Effect" is real
Obviously, when it comes to fashion, Kate Middleton can pretty much do no wrong— or can she? Cue the scary documentary music because this is about to get real. One popular designer alleges that Kate Middleton ruined her label, and it’s all because of that gorgeous blue wrap dress she wore when Prince William announced their engagement way, way back in 2010.
The navy dress, which made Kate’s sapphire engagement ring look almost electric, was by designer Daniella Helayel of Issa, and it should have been the label’s finest moment.
After all, who doesn’t want to be known for dressing the beloved princess? You’d think it would boost sales. Well, it did, but not in the way you’d think. Issa, the beloved, tiny brand that Madonna has also rocked, wasn’t ready for it. Helayel told You, “Only the previous year the label was on the verge of financial crisis, it wasn’t all rose-tinted glasses. Issa was a niche brand, we had a loyal following but in 2008 and 2009 we were in serious financial trouble. When Kate wore that dress everything changed.”
Apparently the “Kate Effect” — the way that whatever the Patron Saint of Coat Dresses wears can go viral — took Issa down. Middleton had been wearing Issa for years, so it surely wasn’t intentional. Issa had been getting recognition because of Middleton’s love for the brand, but after she rocked that navy dress, known only as “DJ157,” to announce her marriage, Helayel’s phones never stopped ringing. It was “bonkers,” the designer said.
Issa had a staff of about 25 employees and three pattern cutters at the time of the engagement announcement. The dress sold out within five minutes and was reordered over and over again. “It has always been my bestselling dress. I sold 1,110 of them in one order to Neiman Marcus in New York. It was the original Issa dress, based on a design my grandmother, who was a couturier, used to wear,” Helayel said.
So what gives?
Helayel didn’t have the cash to front the production of all those orders, and the bank wouldn’t give her a loan. (UGH, BANKS.) Helayel said that the boom in business was so stressful that her hair went white. Luckily, or not, depending on your read, Camilla Al-Fayed — whose family owned Harrods — stepped in around 2011 and bought an ownership stake in the company to help, but eventually it just wasn’t enough. A new CEO was hired, things changed, and eventually Helayel walked away from Issa.
Kate In Another Issa
Surely, Kate did not mean to put Issa and Helayel out of business. And it’s definitely a strange world when a the most popular woman in the world (or one of them, easily) wearing a small designer’s clothes is a bad thing.
But, if you’ve always drooled over the Issa wrap dresses, there may be hope yet for your closet. Helayel recently launched a new brand, called Dhela, with the same signature silhouettes and comfortable-but-tailored, princess-worthy look. Let’s just hope Kate doesn’t catch onto it anytime soon.