One of Kate's go-to Brazilian designers Daniella Helayel on how to inject Latin flavour into summer wardrobes

Report: Mulenga Hornsby

The Duchess of Cambridge, née Kate Middleton, turned heads recently when she stepped out in a slinky white number that showed off her sun-kissed shoulders for an event at the Natural History Museum.

The dress was by Brazilian designer Barbara Casasola and signalled that the country is having a definite 'fashion moment'. And now that Kate is a powerhouse in diplomatic dressing, it was the perfect way to pay homage to the host country of the summer Olympics, which will kick off in Rio in less than a month.

With bold colours, eye-popping prints and curve-hugging shapes, Brazilian style packs more zing than a newly poured caipirinha. And in an exclusive interview Rio-born Daniella Helayel, founder and former creative director of Issa, the label behind Kate’s unforgettable royal blue engagement dress, tells us how we too can inject some Latin joie de vivre into our wardrobes.


Kate wore a dress by Brazilian designer Barbara Casasola.

London-based Daniella, whose "Brazilian soul and Brazilian spirit" is reflected in her new samba-worthy collection for Monsoon, says that her homeland's fashion is all about body confidence.

"With literally thousands of beaches in Brazil and miles of coastline, the beach influences fashion a lot and the swimwear industry is very important. But you also have the most amazing nature and beautiful colours. So the women here love vivid hues, textures and prints. My sense of colour is very Brazilian and this heritage influences designers a lot.

A similar style to Kate's blue engagement dress.

"Architecture is very important too. I grew up on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro in Niteroi, which is linked to the centre of the city by a 14 km-long bridge. We say the most beautiful view in Rio is from Niteroi.

Daniella Helayel is the former creative director of Issa.

"When you look across Guanabara Bay you see the Sugar Loaf Mountain, the iconic Cristo Redentor statue and all the boats sailing in the bay. My grandmother's house in Niteroi is next to the MAC, the Museum of Contemporary Art, built by Oscar Niemeyer and where Louis Vuitton held a show for their cruise collection recently.

"We Brazilians are excellent at design in general – graphic art, art and architecture, and this skill is reflected in the fashion world too. Brazilian women are very carefree and natural, but also groomed, taking great pride in their appearance. They like to get all dressed up, enjoying being very feminine in general, with impeccable hair and nails.

Daniella's new collection for Monsoon features beautiful prints.

"The women love jewellery and accessories. Brazil is the country where the most hair accessories are sold. You don’t see one child without a bow in their hair or some flower or a little tiara!

Daniella has designed a collection for Monsoon.

"You'll notice that my dresses are very simple. They never have buttons, the zippers are always invisible and the cut is very simple, so the woman wearing them feels free to accessorise as she wishes.

"I always wanted to make clothes for real women like me. Women with bums and boobs, and smaller waists. Brazilian women in general are very voluptuous and they just embrace their curves. Confidence is key. On Copacabana you see all shapes and sizes… and women in their 70s wearing bikinis, and everyone is very comfortable with their bodies."


Lolitta is one of the brands Daniella recommends.

Since life revolves around the beach and a lot of flirting is done there, swimwear is very important. To make sure all eyes are on you try Salinas, Adriana Degreas or my friend Lenny Niemeyer. Lenny's bikinis are like works of art and I feel so sexy and confident in them.

Brazil has some amazing brands for fine jewelry. I love Silvia Furmanovich, Ara Vartanian and Ana Khouri.

For high fashion I would check out Reinaldo Lourenço, Patricia Viera and Paula Raya who make beautiful clothes.

Try the brands Isolda and Lolitta for more affordable contemporary looks.

When it comes to footwear, there are great shoes at Schutz, where I buy my espadrilles.

Another top tip is Felipa, a very cute shop which only sells espadrilles.

And one brand cool Brazilians like right now for shoes is called Lane Marinho. The designs are all handmade, inspired by materials such as rope, shells and stones.

One of Lenny Niemeyer's designs.

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