Kate’s satin blue wrap dress that she wore when her engagement to Prince William was officially announced to the world has become almost as iconic as the photos themselves.
Prince William revealed to the press shortly after the photos were taken that he and Kate had been discussing their engagement for a while. [READ MORE HERE] So Kate had plenty of time to try and prepare for the moment the announcement would be made public, and she would be thrust into the media spotlight more so than ever before.
This not only included what she would say to the media on the day, but what she would wear in photos that would be published around the world. A young Kate chose a dress by designer Issa for the important occasion.
Issa’s following included celebrities like Maddona, Kylie, Elizabeth Hurley and Jennifer Lopez. And, of course, Kate Middleton. Although not technically a ‘celebrity’ at the time, Kate was already very much in the spotlight due to being Prince William’s girlfriend.
Kate was often snapped at events on Prince William’s arm in beautiful Issa gowns. So, it’s no wonder that the then 28-year-old Kate Middleton returned to the label when looking for the perfect dress to be papped in by the world’s media when her engagement to the future King was revealed.
The dressed showed off Kate’s fantastic figure with it’s wrap design. But, it was still demure enough for the occasion with it’s long sleeves and knee length skirt. In essence, the dress was a perfect fit for the future Princess. Not only that, but the midnight blue colour of the satin was perfect to compliment Kate’s engagement right. All eyes were bound to be on the ring, as it previously belonged to Prince William’s mother the late Princess Diana. So, showing off the ring was an important part of the picture.
However, while the photos capture a happy moment in Kate and William’s life, they also hide a hidden story of heartbreak for the designer behind the Issa dress.
Daniella Helayel was the founder and designer at Issa.
As well as it’s core celebrity following, at it’s peak the fashion house was worth around £27 million. Daniella admits that her business was doing well:
“It was a huge success for many years and I’d worked incredibly hard building it up. The clothes were beautiful and I was very lucky to have a strong following. “
However, by the time Kate picked Issa for her engagement announcement, Daniella reveals that the brand had seen better days.
“Only the previous year the label was on the verge of financial crisis; it wasn’t all rose-tinted glasses,’ Daniella told the Daily Mail’s YOU. “We were in serious financial trouble,” she concedes. “When Kate wore that dress everything changed.”
Daniella had no idea until she saw the published pictures like everyone else that the future Duchess of Cambridge was wearing one of her designs.
‘The dress didn’t have a name, it was just the DJ157; I know all my dresses by their style numbers,’ says Daniella. ‘I had no idea Kate was going to wear it. She occasionally came to the studio, but she also shopped at Fenwick and I think that is where she bought the blue dress.
The Kate Effect’ is well known today, with anything the Duchess wears selling out instantly online. Daniella goes on to explain why Kate’s choice of dress that day, and ‘The Kate Effect’, eventually led to the downfall of her business and the Issa label:
“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 to sell in order to finance the company’s growth and I had no option but to find an investor…The Al-Fayeds had just sold Harrods and Camilla knew a great deal about fashion and retail. It felt like the perfect marriage.
However, in 2012 a new CEO was hired and things started moving in a different direction, which didn’t work for me.”
“I was broken by the end of it” Daniella concludes. She describes the whole process as “heartbreaking”. The designer was left so bereft after the demise of her carefully built brand that she had to take time out.
“I took two years out and didn’t design a thing. It was too painful. I don’t think people realise how much I suffered.”
However, there is a chance at a happy ending. While Kate continues to shine a light on wonderful British designers and brands around the world, Daniella is also back in the spotlight. The designer has created a new collection under a new label. It’s called Dhela.
She can already count Ellie Goulding as one of her first celebrity fans! However, the Duchess of Cambridge hasn’t been spotted in any of her new pieces – yet!
What do you think? Are you inspired to dress like the Duchess? Let us know below!