There's no denying the Duchess of Cambridge has an effect when it comes to fashion. While Kate Middleton has caused retail websites to crash in the past and send fans into a frenzy searching for her wardrobe pieces, it turns out that the royal's famous "Kate Effect" has unwittingly resulted in problems for the brand she wore to announce her engagement to Prince William back in 2010: Issa. Kate's blue wrap, silk-jersey dress quickly became iconic, with Issa items reportedly selling out in more than 43 countries around the world in the weeks that followed. However despite the brand's incredible boost in business, Issa founder and creative director Daniella Helayel has revealed that her team struggled to meet the demand.
Kate wore an Issa wrap dress to announce her engagement to Prince William Photo: Getty Images
At the time Prince William and Kate announced their engagement, Daniella admitted that her label was "on the verge of financial crisis" with just 25 staff members and three pattern cutters working on the collections. Speaking to the Daily Mail, Daniella said, "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."
The Brazilian-born designer also revealed that she had no idea that Kate was going to wear one of her dresses. "That morning I'd gone to yoga as usual, and then I got a call from a friend telling me about the royal engagement. It was all very exciting," she explained. "We didn't have a TV at the studio and this was pre-Instagram, but we soon knew Kate was wearing Issa because at four o'clock the phones began ringing and didn't stop. It was bonkers."
Issa founder Daniella Helayel said the label struggled to meet the demand Photo: Getty Images
After the Duchess stepped out wearing the frock on that November day, her Issa dress sold out within five minutes. Daniella said, "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." While the brand's sales doubled as a result of Kate's endorsement, Daniella didn't have the money to finance the mass production needed to meet the demand. As a result, her friend Camilla Al-Fayed offered to buy a 51 per cent stake in the business, which led to the label recruiting a new CEO and Daniella leaving her role as Creative Director in May of 2013. The business eventually shut down two years later.
"I left because I couldn't take any more. I felt so stressed that my hair went white and started falling out. I was broken by the end of it," Danielle admitted. "I had a great business, which I'd built up on my own over a decade. To watch it evaporate was heartbreaking. I took two years out and didn't design a thing. It was too painful." Daniella has now returned to fashion with the launch of her new label, Dhela, and designed a similar dress to Kate's engagement frock for her collaboration with Monsoon in 2016.