'The Kate Effect' has helped profits to soar at many of the Duchess of Cambridge’s favourite fashion brands, with designers including Vanessa Seward revealing how the royal caused a boost in sales. However, Kate may have unwittingly caused problems for one brand, Issa, when she stepped out in a blue wrap dress from the brand to announce her engagement to Prince William.
The silk-jersey dress instantly became iconic, with Issa items reportedly selling out in more than 43 countries around the world in the weeks that followed. However, despite the incredible boost to her business, Issa founder and creative director Daniella Helayel has admitted her team struggled to meet the demand.
At the time Prince William and Kate announced their engagement, Daniella says 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 admitted: "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."
The dress sold out in minutes, and sales doubled as a result of Kate's endorsement for the brand, but Daniella didn't have the money to finance the mass production needed to meet demand. 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 2013. Issa eventually closed completely 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 shared. "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.