Fashion fans rejoice! Daniella Helayel has launched a new label called Dhela. Daniella Helayel was the creator and designer of Issa, which shuttered some years ago. Issa was once Kate Middleton's favorite brand. It was the McQueen or Packham of her then closet, and she wore the chic jersey dresses to a panoply of events, from glittering galas to tasks as menial as taking out the trash. On November 16th, she wore her now most iconic Issa when she stepped into the state apartments at St. James's Palace with a sparkling sapphire on her left hand and Prince William at her side, to announce she would soon change from Miss Middleton to an HRH.
Brazilian beauty Daniella Helayel, the brand's founder and designer, sold 51% of the company to Camilla al-Fayed, and as many suspected, that was the kiss of death for any hopes of further royal patronage. (learn why on my 2011 post here) Kate wore her last Issa, a purple jersey, on July 1, 2011 to an evening fireworks display on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Although she must have a closet chock full of the label, we haven't seen her wear Issa in more than five years.
Despite this, it seemed Issa would skyrocket with Kate's fame, but instead, (to the distress of Kate fashion fans everywhere) the entire label tanked shortly after. I read a few reports that the company was unable to meet the stratospheric demand, but with the launch of her new label, Daniella has given a very frank interview discussing the ins and outs of her beloved label's demise. I started following Kate when she debuted on the ski slopes of Klosters, so for me Issa remains one of Kate's most iconic brands. I don't think I can appropriately summarize the interview, and so if you are interested, I encourage you to pop over to this link and read it in full. I will pull a comment from Daniela assuring us that although her new label Dhela is a fresh start, it will have some throwbacks:
There are hints of Issa in my new label, but updated and matured. Jersey will always figure in my collections, although recently I’ve become very interested in knitwear. I’m really pleased with the first collection.
I personally think, and I suspect that you will agree with me, that if the shoe fits wear it. If it ain't broke, don't fix it....whatever other adages your grandmother taught you. Issa has something that really worked, and by chance it went south. No shame in launching the same theory under a new name. I'm on board for Issa 2.0, aka Dhela.
Speaking of Issa success, let's quickly run through some of Kate absolute greatest Issa of all time! It is really hard for me to choose my favorite Issa evening gown, because both the gunmetal and the pink halter neck are drop-dead gorgeous, but I think the gunmetal wins thanks to the mix of sharp geometric and soft flowing lines. Kate wore this in 2009 when she hosted a table at the Saatchi Gallery in London on behalf of Starlight Children's Foundation. Although Kate had been active in a number of charity events as a singleton, this was one of her later initiatives when she really knew she was looking at just a few more years of quiet before she would ascend to royal status. She was confident and glowing.
Coming in second in my favorites, and I think a very popular fan favorite generally, is this sparkling Issa featuring a daring plunging neckline.
The pink halter-neck is a close second among my favorite formal dresses pre-wedding. Kate wore this to the Boodles Boxing Ball in 2008 at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London.
One of the Meades was competing in the boxing match that night to benefit Starlight. William and Kate were joined by Harry and Chelsy Davy and a bevy of their social set. Here Kate chats with Guy Pelly, one of William's best friends.
Although the blue engagement Issa is the most iconic, another blue frock from the label (often overlooked when tallying her Issa) is the electric dress she wore to Harry Meade's wedding just before the news broke that she was engaged to William. That was a custom Issa, which makes you wonder what kind of collaborations Kate might have had with the label had al-Fayed not gotten on board:
This is far from an exhaustive list of Kate's Issa collection. She owns the lucky dress in hot pink, black, and white. This halter top dress that Kate was photographed in on a number of occasions before her marriage is Issa. Here, Kate Middleton is pictured wearing it as she returns from work on an August evening in 2007.
Below is Kate on a night out with girlfriends in 2007. They had dinner at a West London restaurant and then continued the party at favorite watering hole Boujis. This dress is also Issa!
A black wrap dress that we became very familiar with in the days leading up to the wedding is classic Issa. Here Kate is pictured doing a spot of shopping on April 20th, just nine days before her wedding, closely trailed by her PPO:
It remains to be seen if Kate wears any of Helayel's new label. In many ways, it seems that Kate has moved on and I wonder, even starting fresh, if the label will be removed enough from the al-Fayed connections. Even if Kate doesn't wear any Dhela, as long as Helayel produces her tried and true core designs and incorporates her signature flair for color and fabrics, Dhela is sure to be a hit.