Sunday 23 April 2017

Kate Middleton's engagement dress designer says the 'Kate effect' ruined her business

Kate Middleton, pictured with Prince William in the sapphire blue, 'Phyllis' wrap around dress.
Kate Middleton, pictured with Prince William in the sapphire blue, 'Phyllis' wrap around dress.
November 2010: Kate's royal blue Issa wrap dress was picture perfect for her engagement announcement.
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attend the Evening National Canada Day Celebrations accompanied by representatives of the National Capitol Commission on Parliament Hill on July 1, 2011 in Ottawa, Canada. (Photo by David Rose - Pool/Getty Images)
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge arrive for the Evening National Canada Day Celebrations in the capital accompanied by representatives of the National Capitol Commission on July 1, 2011 in Ottawa, Canada. (Photo by Pool/Getty Images)
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge during an informal reception for young Canadian volunteers in the official residence of the Governor General of Canada, Rideau Hall in Ottawa, on the first day of their visit to the Commonwealth country.
Catherine Middleton waves to the crowds as she arrives at The Goring Hotel after visiting Westminster Abbey on April 28, 2011 in London, England.
Daniella Issa Helayel attends the Swarovski Crystallized Unsigned Model Search Event at Swarovski Crystallized on January 26, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Stuart Wilson/Getty Images)
Designer Daniella Helayel walks on the catwalk by Issa London on day 2 of London Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2013, at The Courtyard Show Space on September 15, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images)
Camilla Al Fayed arrives at the Grey Goose Vodka And The Elton John AIDS Foundation Launch Party at One The Piazza, Covent Garden on November 14, 2007 in London, England. (Photo by Rosie Greenway/Getty Images)
Prince William and Kate Middleton pose for photographs in the State Apartments of St James Palace on November 16, 2010.
Caitlin McBride

Caitlin McBride

The designer behind Kate Middleton's iconic engagement dress said the money-can't-buy publicity it received that day ruined her life.

Daniella Helayel, who was behind Issa at the time, said that "everything changed" when the Duchess of Cambridge chose a sapphire dress to complement her new ring previously belonging to Princess Diana.

Since its inception, Issa had a dedicated following among celebrities and socialites, but Helayel said the business was not structured to cope with the demand that followed being the Duchess' new favourite designer.

"Only the previous year the label was on the verge of financial crisis; it wasn’t all rose-tinted glasses," she told You magazine.

Prince William and Kate Middleton pose for photographs in the State Apartments of St James Palace on November 16, 2010.
Prince William and Kate Middleton pose for photographs in the State Apartments of St James Palace on November 16, 2010.

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 dress sold out in five minutes, a record for even the most of devout of Kate's fashion followers who flock online in their thousands to stock up on a piece worn by the style icon at her various engagements around the world.

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attend the Evening National Canada Day Celebrations accompanied by representatives of the National Capitol Commission on Parliament Hill on July 1, 2011 in Ottawa, Canada. (Photo by David Rose - Pool/Getty Images)
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attend the Evening National Canada Day Celebrations accompanied by representatives of the National Capitol Commission on Parliament Hill on July 1, 2011 in Ottawa, Canada. (Photo by David Rose - Pool/Getty Images)

Haleyel said she wasn't notified in advance about Kate's intention to wear Issa that day and was only notified about the news when a friend called to tell her.

"It was all very exciting. 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," she said.

Demand for stock increased but Issa hadn't improved its financial standing in the eyes of the bank so they were denied credit and the factory "was creaming for me to pay its bills. I needed an investor."

Camila Al-Fayed - sister of the late Dodo Al-Fayed, who died in a car crash with Princess Diana in 1997 - purchased a 51pc stake in the company in 2011 and a new CEO was brought in whom Halayel said she clashed with.

Catherine Middleton waves to the crowds as she arrives at The Goring Hotel after visiting Westminster Abbey on April 28, 2011 in London, England.
Catherine Middleton waves to the crowds as she arrives at The Goring Hotel after visiting Westminster Abbey on April 28, 2011 in London, England.

She left the business in 2013 and Issa closed its doors in 2015.

"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. I had a great business, which I’d built up on my own over a decade. To watch it evaporate was heartbreaking," she explained.

Daniella Issa Helayel attends the Swarovski Crystallized Unsigned Model Search Event at Swarovski Crystallized on January 26, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Stuart Wilson/Getty Images)
Daniella Issa Helayel attends the Swarovski Crystallized Unsigned Model Search Event at Swarovski Crystallized on January 26, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Stuart Wilson/Getty Images)

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