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