Monday, 20 May 2013

Kate Loves: Issa

When William and Kate's relationship became public knowledge, the eyes of the world focused on the then Kate Middleton and soon magazines all over the world were focusing on her style. What was Kate wearing? Who were her favourite brands? Women are all over the world became interested in Kate's style and over the years her status as a style icon grew until she became one of the most influential style icons of our generation.

One fashion label played an undeniably pivotal role in influencing and defining her style until 2011: Issa.


Issa's creative director Daniella Helayel grew up surrounded by sun, sea and the stunning nature of the Brazilian coast line. The distinctive prints the designer has become known for have clearly been influenced by Daniella's roots.

'Nature was very generous to Brazil and is enveloped by unique landscapes and dazzling colours. My collections are designed to reflect the effortless elegance and the laid back lifestyle the country is known for. I love making women feel glamorous and chic and always design with comfort and confidence in mind.'

Ms Helayel completed her studies in New York and worked as a fashion consultant and buyer before moving to London where she was inspired by the city's eclectic energy and diversity. In 2001, Issa was born, and since then Daniella's collections have been embraced by celebrities including Madonna, Scarlet Johansson, Eva Mendes and Sharon Stone. But it was primarily Kate's love of the brand's versatile dresses that introduced the them to millions.


Kate chose a beautiful, floor-sweeping coral gown for the Boodles Boxing Ball in 2008. It was the first time we had really seen William and Kate together at a glamorous event and Kate certainly made quite an impression. It remains one of her best looks to date in my opinion. In 2009, Kate chose a very similar halter-neck Issa gown when she hosted a table at the Saatchi Gallery to raise money for the Starlight Children's Foundation.

RCFA

Kate has displayed a selection of eye-catching dresses at society weddings in recent years including the black Issa dress with sheer panels she wore for the wedding of Peter Phillips and Autumn Kelly in 2008. It was an important day for Kate; not only was she attending the wedding of Prince William's cousin, she also met the Queen for the first time.

Hello! Magazine

Lady in red Kate opted for a silk jersey Issa dress for the wedding of Emilia D'Erlanger and David Jardine-Paterson. It was a chic, sophisticated choice for Kate and simply perfect for the occasion.

Hello!
In October 2010, William and Kate attended Harry Meade's wedding in Gloucestershire. The tanned couple had just returned returned from Kenya and speculation was rife in the papers they were secretly engaged (of course, it wouldn't be confirmed for almost another month). Kate wore a cobalt blue dress by Issa, her first custom made garment by the brand, signalling the strength of the fashion relationship.



Much to the delight of royal fans all over the world, the long awaited engagement announcement of Prince William and Catherine Middleton finally happened on November 16, 2011. It was an immensely exciting and daunting time for Kate who gave her first ever public interview. What does one wear for such a momentous occasion? Kate chose a Silk Jersey Wrap Dress by her go-to designer Issa.

The British Monarchy Flickr

Something many noted immediately was Kate's engagement ring. The oval blue sapphire surrounded by a cluster of 14 diamonds belonged to William's mother, the late Princess Diana. Speaking about his decision to give it to Kate, William movingly said: "It's very special to me. As Kate's very special to me now, it was right to put the two together. It's a way of making sure my mother didn't miss out on today." The Issa dress complimented the striking ring wonderfully.

AP

The dress was a marvellous choice for Kate. The ruched detailing on the neckline was stunning and the length was appropriate yet still young. The dress is crafted from pure silk and features wrap over panels at the waist providing a truly flattering fit. The wrap dress is a signature of Issa's and remains available today for £499 at Harrods, The Editeur and Les Nouvelles.


Issa London

Issa was one of the first labels to experience "The Kate Effect" and the demand for Kate's engagement dress and publicity following the announcement was transformational for the brand. It was recently revealed it was almost too much for the business to handle:

'Demand was so huge that the business couldn't cope. If Kate wears a Zara dress, these huge companies have the backing to follow through. Issa was basically run by interns, students and Daniella.'

Days before the royal wedding Kate was photographed shopping in London wearing a short-sleeve Issa Black Wrap Dress with a v-neckline. At the time fashion experts were predicting Kate would choose Daniella Helayel to design her wedding dress.



And the day before the royal wedding, a radiant Kate arrived at The Goring Hotel wearing her Issa bird print dress.


During William and Kate's first official joint tour of Canada in June/July 2011, Kate brought back the bird print dress for a youth reception.

Canadian Heritage Flickr

On July 1st, William and Kate celebrated Canada Day with the regal Duchess electing to wear a rich purple wrap dress by her favoured designer Issa. Kate wore her hair up to display the exquisite detailing and the neckline of the pretty frock. 

Canadian Heritage Flickr

The event marked the final occasion Kate publicly wore clothing by the brand.

Canadian Heritage Flickr

I regularly receive emails from fans of Kate asking why the Duchess no longer wears Issa clothes, the answer is very much an obvious one. In July 2011, it was announced Camilla Al-Fayed bought a majority stake in the brand:

'The daughter of ex-Harrods owner, Mohammed Al-Fayed, purchased a 51 per cent stake in the label which was thrust into the public consciousness after Kate Middleton chose to wear a slinky blue dress for her engagement photo call.
 Al-Fayed's title will be chairwoman and she will oversee the commercial expansion of the brand, while Helayel (who continues to hold a 49 per cent stake), will remain as creative director.'

No doubt the Al-Fayed name is one most of you are familiar with. Princess Diana was tragically killed in a car accident in 1997, with her then lover Dodi Al-Fayed, son of Mohammed Al-Fayed. Following the tragedy Mr. Al-Fayed made a number of accusations against the Royal Family, branding the Duke of Edinburgh a "nazi" and a "racist" and publicly blaming the Duke and MI6 for the death of his son and Princess Diana. In a television documentary he burnt the royal coat of arms that used to adorn the wall of Harrods.

Speaking on The Hour, Mr. Al-Fayed controversially said:

'To know that your child has been slaughtered by a bunch of gangsters calling themselves the Royal Family and the head of the British royal family himself, calling himself Prince Philip, he's a nazi at the core, well known racist.'

Naturally there is bad blood between the Queen and the Al-Fayed's and the notion of Kate wearing clothing from a brand owned by Mr. Al-Fayed's daughter is simply unthinkable. Will we see the Duchess publicly wearing Issa again? As long as Ms. Al-Fayed is chairwoman, I would say definitely not.

I imagine it was a difficult decision for Daniella Helayel to strike up a partnership with Camilla Al-Fayed. The brand is doing incredibly well but losing a loyal customer with the status and influence Kate has is a major loss for any brand. It is a terrible pity, in my opinion, because it was a wonderful fashion relationship and one I expect would have continued otherwise. Daniella's wrap and printed dresses suited Kate's frame and remain some of her best looks.

PA

The Duchess has gone on to forge excellent working relationships with designers such as Sarah Burton, creative director of Alexander McQueen, Jenny Packham and Emilia Wickstead. Let us know which of Kate's Issa looks are your favourites?

UPDATE: On May 2013, it was unexpectedly announced Daniella Helayel decided to leave Issa. According to industry experts she's been unhappy for some time and wants to pursue other projects. The designer said "Creating Issa has been one of the greatest rewarding things in my life. I may be leaving, but the Issa girl will live forever in my heart".

49 comments:

  1. Its Sunday and I knew you would have a post today, and here it is :)My favorite Issa dresses are the engagement dress and the black V neck wrap dress. I never knew about the Al-Fayed story!!Oh well its byebye Issa for Kate.
    Thanks chica for this fabulous post and for posting pictures that revisit the Kate-Issa trip,,Id forgotten how gorgeous Kate looks in the black Vneck wrap dress:-))xoxo

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  2. Kate, Texas, USA20 May 2013 at 04:27

    Good morning Charlotte! You're up early! I thought I would check for an update or post and yea, it's here! Thank you!!!

    Kate has always looked fabulous in Issa and it has always been a favorite of mine in her wardrobe! I LOVED the black and white animal print. Kate looks so young and vibrant! That dress really shows off her amazing legs! The longs gowns pictured are also beautiful and favorites. I have always loved the grey halter-neck she wore to the Starlight Children's Foundation fundraiser in 2009. So pretty! The cobalt blue she wore to Harry Meade's wedding was so eye-popping and pretty. Love! The engagement dress....iconic. :) SO many styles that I think are unique and pretty in their own way. As you said, she definitely wears the brand VERY well!

    It's sad the relationship had to end, but completely understandable. With Camilla Al-Fayed coming on board, there was no way that Kate could wear the label. A very wise choice to end it. I think you're right that as long as Al-Fayed is associated at all with Issa, we won't be seeing Kate wearing it.

    On the bottom set of triple pictures, where did Kate wear the black dress with the very low neckline? Definitely a very bold and confident look! :) I have seen the picture before, but not sure where she wore it.

    Thanks for the great post!!! Such a fun way to start the week with a new Kate loves post! Have a great Monday!

    PS....They shared their engagement on November 16, 2010. You have 2011. :)

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  3. There's no doubt that Issa's designs look very good on Kate. Her height and weight are perfect for the dresses and gowns.

    The only one I never cared for is the black dress with the very low plunging V-neck (the last photo posted above..on the left).

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    1. Kate, Texas, USA20 May 2013 at 05:09

      Royalfan, where did Kate wear the black dress with the low neckline? Curious.... The dress is pretty, but the very low V-neck is a bit much for me. Obviously from her younger, pre-royal days. :)

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    2. Hi Kate :)

      I honestly don't know. The photo has been removed from this post, but I too think it was from their early dating days. It's one dress that stood out in my mind because I didn't even think it was flattering with such a low cut. Just MY opinion of course.

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  4. Hurray - another post' Thanks, Charlotte!

    Other than the beautiful cobalt blue (my favorite color) dresses that Kate wore to the Meade wedding and for the engagement announcement, I like the coral gown and the bird print dress the best. Sad that Kate no longer wears Issa but now I understand why. It must have been a hard (but necessary) decision for the Duchess.

    Thanks again for the interesting, informative post, dear Charlotte, and happy Monday all! :o)

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  5. I was never a big fan of kate in Issa. I find the dresses rather plain and boring, with the exception of certain ones (like the red one you posted, the grey long one, the engagement dress or the one for the wedding of Peter Phillips and Autumn Kelly). So I'm glad she doesn't wear Issa anymore.

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  6. Interesting post, I didn't know about the Al Fayed connection to Issa. I think the purple Issa that Kate wore in Canada was one of my favourite look for her. I adore purple myself and Kate just looked stunning in that beautiful shade. Annie, UK

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  7. For me especially the grey halter neck gown and the cute red summer dress. The purple was too big for her as she lost quite a weight because of wedding and everything but besides this a very good look, especially for the updo. I never care too much about her engagement dress (yes, heretic opinion:)) IMO looks too much like ice-skater dress. But generally Issa designs suited Kate´s style and personality very well - but it is totally comprensible that she doesn´t wear them anymore due to the Al fayed participation (which seems as an intentional provocation, don´t you think?)
    good week to all!

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  8. I think the red is my favourite! The label really did suit her didn't it.

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  9. That was very interesting! Thank you

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  10. It's so sad, the Al-fayeds are probably looking for any way to annoy the royal family. My favourite issa is the red/pink polka-dotted wrap polo dress at the end-so perfect!!

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  11. I hope she wears the cobalt blue one again. I really like it and would love to see it again

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  12. I think the black dress she's wearing last time before the wedding is the UFO dress she's wearing under the black coat for a dinner with Will at Mayfair. Thank you for the post! Love your blog!

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    1. The lovely ladies over at What Kate Wore identified it as a past season Reiss piece but it is *very* similar to Kate's Issa wrap dress.

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  13. Jean from Lancs.20 May 2013 at 15:56

    The Issa dresses always looked lovely on Catherine, but the designer must surely have been aware that there was no way she would keep her most famous customer after she went into partnership with Ms. Al-Fayed, whose father said the most horrendous things about the Royal Family.
    One wonders if the designer was warned of this.

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  14. Issa has to have known that they would lose Kate when they took on that investor. It has to have been a calculated business decision. It may be when they didn't get the wedding dress commission, they thought they saw the handwriting on the wall. Issa is quite a youthful and casual label. Kate did move into a more formal look but lately with those Topshop choices, there would seem th have been room for Issa.

    I was sorry because Kate looked fabulous in their dresses. I loved the black one, the sequined one she wore before the wedding and the pink and grey evening gowns. The purple in Canada was also a great look. They made her look so slim. The soft draping would have been ideal for pregnancy, much better than the stiff materials Kate has featured.

    A shame too because whatever there relationship was, Diana was clearly happy with Dodi. I personally doubt she would have married him but he seems to have given her a happy last month until at least the final hours. (Always wondered if he proposed. She looked far more tense coming out of the hotel than going in, but it could have just been the press.) Suspect that letter Diana wrote really set Al-Fayed off, although he undoubtably wanted to shift blame too.

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    1. What letter did Diana write?

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  15. Good morning eating breakfast i love the duchess choose to wear issa but now a days i never seen the duchess wearing issa just because of mr al fyed is parthership to issa and harrods to longer wear them but i like her choice now meanwhile here last week william and attend wedding update

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2327428/Kate-Middleton-does-Marilyn-Gust-wind-lifted-Duchess-Cambridges-dress.html

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  16. It's funny how excited I get when I see a new post - and what a great one it was! I absolutely love how you combine something informational with the wonderful photos - you really are a talented blogger! Thank you, Charlotte!

    My three favorites are the grey halter gown, the red silk jersey (I love the duchess in red!), and my absolute favorite - the bird print dress. I remember seeing the pictures of Kate on the night before the wedding, and that feeling of excitment comes back every time I see the bird print dress :-)

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  17. Hello everyone!

    Thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts. One of the questions I'm most commonly asked is why the Duchess no longer wears Issa and I thought (during this quiet spell) it was a good time to write a post on it and look back on Kate's best Issa looks.

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  18. A quick question for you all. I recall when Kate was hospitalised last December some of you requested I cover William's solo engagements? Would you all like me to continue doing so? The blog has very much become about William and Kate and William carried out a very interesting engagement today I think you would enjoy reading about.

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    1. Good question, Charlotte. While the focus of your blog is definitely about Kate, I think it would be nice to hear about William's engagements, especially while Kate is away from her public role for a while.

      Julie

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    2. Yes please! I need my fix where I can get it :)

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    3. Haha me too, but I take my dose in the form of Harry!

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    4. That would be great if you could Charlotte. Would be interesting to read about.

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    5. Definitely. Thank you. :)

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    6. Kate, Texas, USA21 May 2013 at 02:56

      Yes!!! Would LOVE to see a post about Kate's other half. :) It's Duchess Kate blog, but they are in love and married, so they are one!!!

      Emily J and Anonymous 21:22, your posts are too funny!!! :)

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    7. Sarah from Calif.21 May 2013 at 03:45

      Oh yes Charlotte please do. If you have the time we will thoughly enjoy your tasteful endeavors.

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    8. Pauline Oak HIlls21 May 2013 at 05:01

      OH Charlotte that would be grat if you covered Williams engagements. Yes this blog is about the beautiful Duchess but William is a very important part of her. So it would be just fine to read about him here on your great blog. I am really having Duchess withdrawals like many here might be having. I am just hoping everything is ok with the Duchess and she is getting the rest she need's.

      Thanks again for all your time you put into this blog for us fans of the beautiful Duchess.

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  19. Jean from Lancs.20 May 2013 at 20:31

    I wondered today if "Help for Heroes" had expected Catherine to be there, as they had "hoodies" for all three of them.
    It would be nice to have William's engagements especially as we will have a few months when the Duchess has no engagements.

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    1. Kate, Texas, USA21 May 2013 at 02:58

      Sad to think about the long stretch without seeing Kate, but she deserves some privacy after Baby C is born. Maybe we'll get a glimpse of her pushing the pram around Kensington Gardens every now and then. :)

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    2. Sarah from Calif.21 May 2013 at 03:40

      Jean I have had a chance to see the hoodies. I would be so honored to wear one of those. Thought the statue was fantastic too

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    3. Pauline Oak HIlls21 May 2013 at 05:02

      @Sarah- YOU can purchase of of the hoodies from the website. I was looking at them last night. Not sure how much they are but they are nice.

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  20. Yes, please cover William's solo engagements, as well!!!

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  21. Thank you so much for the feedback. It's greatly appreciated!

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  22. Monica, France20 May 2013 at 22:03

    Yes please, dear Charlotte, do cover William's solo engagements please !
    Thank you so much for your fantastic blog. You're unique! :)

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  23. Kate does look good in Issa, she really does. But what really struck me was how thin she was right before the wedding. Hope she decides she doesn't need to be that thin again.

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    1. I hope so too. Too thin by far in those days. She looked wonderful last autumn, still slender but healthy.

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  24. Sarah from Calif.21 May 2013 at 03:15

    Such a pity. The whole thing can't imagine why Daniella had to link up with the Al -Fayeds. She was doing brilliantly without them.
    Very strange. I never cared for a lot of the dresses at first but, they grew on me and really started to enjoy them for their causual, simple, unstuffy elegance. Now pouff their gone.
    The colors were refreshing and delightful. The grey evening dress was stunning.I couldn't pull off such a low front but, Kate did.
    Oh yes and the comment about Prince Philip was lame." A Nazi to the core " that is below the belt and pathetic. More than below the belt. I could go on but I will respect Diana and the others who lost their lives that night................

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  25. Yes charlotte im the sounds good even before i love that you feature the duke as well love the issa dress and gowns

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  26. I guess I've gotten used to Kate's pregnancy weight because it's a little startling to see some of the old pics of her looking so skinny, especially in the black wrap dress and the purple dress! Hopefully she won't drop all the way back down to that tiny size; I think she looks lovely and healthier with a little more weight than that.

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  27. A BIG thak you!!!! Well done, amazing job ! Kate loves Issa, and we love Kate

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  28. Z. from Portugal21 May 2013 at 12:40

    Hi!
    Great post Charlotte!

    I love some of the Issa looks (the red summer dress and the cobalt blue are two of my favourites of all time). I didn't know that Issa brand was linked to the Al-Fayed family, it's interesting.

    Anyway, as much as I like some Issa dresses Kate wore, I think it was time for her to move on towards another style, and try some new things i fashion. She needed some evolution on her style. Something that she has done great, trying J Packam, E Wickstead and, of course, McQueen.

    Hugs! Have a wonderful week!
    Z. from Portugal

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  29. hey so cool to learn about the al-fayed thing. it makes sense she doesn't wear issa anymore now. a pitty though.

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  30. Ana B. from Brazil21 May 2013 at 16:46

    Hello!
    I did know the Al-Fayed family became involved with Issa, but I didn't connect the facts. Must be sad to be forced to not wear the clothes you like!
    One of my favourites photos, if not THE favourite, is those where she is waving her hand to the public before entering the hotel she would spend the night before her wedding. The bird print dress is a favourite of mine. Just as the grey halter-neck and the pink one and the one she wore when the engagement was announced. I really like the design of the brand because it always accentuate women's waist, which is thing I love on my clothes.
    And of course, I'm very proud of Daniella, since she is Brazilian, just like me :)

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  31. I think the Emilia Wickstead outfits have wonky tailoring. The blue maternity dress dug into Catherines arm pits. The yellow coatdress worn to the garden party had odd seams. The pink coat dress worn to the garden party had a saggy waist in the front. The golden coatdress worn to the Order of the Thistle was oddly baggy and ill fitting. The best Emilia Wickstead was the green coatdress worn to the Irish Guards.

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  32. I think that Kate lost her "go to" style when she couldn't wear Issa anymore.

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