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Kate Middleton's Favorite Issa Designer Returns with New Label Dhela

Friday, February 24, 2017

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. 

Kate in Paule Ka for Action for Children

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Kate's trip to Paris in March is less than a month away and it looks like the princess might have France on her mind. The Duchess of Cambridge arrived in Wales today for her first event as patron of Action for Children wearing a very popular suit from 2012 by French designer Paule Ka.

It was just a year ago we were thinking we'd never see this suit, or ensembles of similar style, again and here she is running a slew of recycles circa 2011/2012. If you put money on "what goes around comes around," this is your lucky year. 

Kate started her morning at MIST in Torfean, Wales, a "child and adolescent mental health service for children with complex needs." Kensington Palace shared this photo of Kate with her welcome bouquet of bright posies:

Kensington Palace Twitter

During her morning visiting the centre, Kate met with children and adolescents and learned about the various programs MIST provides to these young people coping with mental health issues. During the course of one conversation, Kate discussed how helpful pets can be, and referenced both her cocker spaniel Lupo and Marvin the Hamster. we know Marvin has survived life with Princess Charlotte, which is probably an accomplishment given the abundance of her affection for pets. ;)

Kate made a second stop at Caerphilly Family Intervention Team (FIT) a program that works with "children with emotional and behavioural difficulties, problems with family relationships and those who have or who are likely to self harm."

Action for Children

The day produced a number of sweet moments induing the little girls in this video who got a chance to hug Kate, and the guys who played a little pool with her. The boys graded Kate a "dreadful" player:

Kate might be a dreadful pool player, but at least she looks good doing it--and the entire room clearly had a blast.

Action for Children

Let's talk about the fashion. As noted, Kate cast back to 2012 today to recycle these burgundy suit separates from a visit to Middle Temple. I was not in law school at the time, but Middle Temple is one of the Inns of Court and the Cambridges were on hand to inaugurate a scholarship in their name for needy law students. So, now I love that event for the fashion and the substance. :) 

A From Berkshire to Buckingham reader has experienced a stint at Middle Temple and shared her very cool story on a post several years ago: 
Earlier in 2012, a little before their visit to the Middle Temple Inn, I was one of two US attorneys to get a 6-week scholarship to join the barristers in London (the Pegasus Scholarship). The Temple part of London is majestic and so historical, I strongly urge anyone to visit. I was so happy when I found out that the Cambridges visited the Inns of Court later that year, as more people should certainly learn about these institutions and the important roles of barristers! 
When Kate first wore this suit, she paired it with a crochet embellished tank by Charlotte Tarantola (huge applause for Kate's Closet for tracking that down) and heels. Today, it is like Kate read the blog post about the Philosophy blazer and got up this morning and said, "Ok, I can get it right, watch this." I even thought this morning that she was recycling the Philosophy blazer and I was genuinely flabbergasted. But, no, a better recycle. ;) I think this is Kate's favorite brown-edged turtleneck and she brought back the Stuart Weitzman boots she wore last week. It really is a skirt version of the Air Cadets outfit, right? 

Kate wore her Kiki McDonough citrine cushion cuts, which she has only worn one other time in public. These got their first day out in 2013 when Kate paid a visit to Cheltenham while pregnant with Prince George. They were an interesting choice, but I thought the deep citrine worked well with the burgundy. They are both rich, autumnal hues and it was a successful color combo. A fan in the crowd, Alex Simmonds, inadvertently got a great shot of the earrings in his twitpic:


I love this suit and I particularly love the skirt. Just last week I was wishing for just this ensemble--the turtleneck against a burgundy jacket--and Kate delivered in spades today. I feel I don't have any standing to complain, but I will only note that I liked this suit better with heels. Heels change your posture and that might have been a good move for this mini skirt which pairs well with flirty pumps. Ultimately, although the chunky heels are currently en vogue, I think they are too heavy for this look. Her Rumbas might have been just the finishing touch. Alternatively, rather than recycling this ensemble as a whole,  the skirt with cute flats and a soft oversized sweater top might be a huge hit.

Something was a bit off with today's ensemble and I think different boots would have gone a long way to solving the problem. In this photo below, which might be the best of the day, Kate looks picture perfect. I believe the angle of the lens, which diminishes the heavy soles of the boots, has a lot to do with it. So, we have a win, even if not entirely a home run, it is a win!

This post was quite delayed, because as I mentioned this morning and on Instagram, I was out for the morning at a D.C. event. That event was sitting in on the Kindred Nursing v. Clark oral arguments in front of the United States Supreme Court. If that were not exciting enough, Ivanka Trump showed up with Arabella and sat right in front of me! It was quite an experience and I am writing a separate post to share with you the story of the morning and a little about what Ivanka was wearing. A lot of you have emailed or posted asking me to launch a blog following Ivanka, and I just don't have the time due to school and work commitments, but I thought it might be fun to at least share today's story. If this isn't your cup of tea, I understand and will see you at our next Kate post, but for the rest, I will have that SCOTUS/Ivanka post live tonight!  

Kate Filming BBC Show + CP Victoria's Vacay and Kate's Work Schedule

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Happy Saturday! Today I am catching up on work over at Kate's Clothes, (most ensembles I was behind on have been updated) and filling you in on stories I didn't have time to cover this week. As you all recall, two weeks ago Kate, William, and Harry stopped by a training session for the London Marathon runners who are competing for Heads Together.

A little over a week later, on Monday the 13th, Wills and Kate (with our fave sidekick Harry) were out and about with a film crew working on a show for the BBC called Mind Over Marathon. The show will air in April and will feature presenter Nick Knowles following different runners who are competing for mental health awareness.

The trio filmed at St. Mary's University in Twickenham and despite the chilly weather, they looked in high spirits. Kate wore the exact same ensemble she did on the 5th, all the way down to those Asprey London Button earrings, while the boys both switched it up. Harry went a little more formal in khakis and William swerved toward sporty in a puffer jacket and new athletic trainers. Life is full of surprises, kids, what can I say. 

via Daily Mail Online
I wondered if Kate wore the same outfit to fit seamlessly with her appearance on the 5th, but the boys changed, so it can't be they are trying to pass this footage off for video from the 5th. I think part of the reason might be that women have far greater latitude when it comes to dressing than men. For example, we can dress jeans up or down in ways men cannot. I haven't made a study of Harry's and William's ensembles, but I don't think that either really wears jeans for many official events. They tend to go in khakis or they go in athletic apparel, but I think the only time I have seen William or Harry in jeans is on private occasions, date nights with Kate or Meghan or other off-duty events where we are but spectators, and not invited participants. It seems for William and Harry, jeans just aren't part of work wear. See all the photos at the DM here

I am looking forward to the segment with the Cambridges; it looks like it will be cute! The DM also shared a fun little video which serves as an amuse-bouche. I can't actually embed it, because Blogger doesn't like it, but you can view it here. And because I can't stop myself from sharing my opinion, the light jogging in jeans looks awkward, but I enjoyed it regardless. 


Now for a little controversial debate...Yesterday was the 60th day that Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden has not been seen. That's right, she hasn't been out in public since before Christmas and she doesn't have anything on her agenda until mid-March. According to the Swedish Palace, she is on an extended vacation with her children, because she wants to spend quality time with them while they are still young, and before they have to begin their formal schooling. This really surprised me, not because I think a mother should not be able to make this choice, but because I follow a lot of varied royal news sources and I hadn't heard a word about this! 

If Kate disappears for even a few weeks there is public outcry, in fact even when she is actively out and about we still hear a lot of complaints that it isn't enough. The Duchess of Cambridge is the wife of the heir apparent to the heir apparent, while Victoria is the heir apparent to the king. She is next up to bat. I think it is interesting that there is barely a whisper regarding her very long absence, while Kate is often maligned even while she is actively working. 

I posed this discussion on Instagram last night and got some interesting responses that I want to share. (By the way, if you don't follow in Instagram, you can find my profile here. I just signed up a few weeks ago!) @the _mbr said:
I've always believed a large part of the outcry over Kate's workload or appearances is driven by the publics hunger to see her and what she is wearing and the press need to sell papers or get clicks. People use the "she's in a publicly funded position and must earn her keep" justification and compare her to CPM Mary, Victoria and Sophie Wessex. The fact that Mary and Victoria are first in line (Victoria a direct comparison to Charles as future monarch) and that Sophie's 2016 engagement load was only around 30 more than Kate's gets glossed over. For some reason Kate seems to attract people's resentment and I don't think she can win.
Katie C. who writes our Charlene of Monaco blog, which if you haven't seen it, you need to check that out here, said:
In addition to what you've said above, with which I fully agree!, I've heard that the Swedes can be less gruelling with regards to work vs family dynamics - though that certainly doesn't account for the rest of the world! It would, at least, explain why she would make this choice without hesitation. Applause indeed! :)
@Jazzudee  compared the workloads of the two women:
The Crown Princess seems to have worked much more than the Duchess in previous years so I don't think it's fair to compare the 2. I feel like Kate takes much more criticism because she works less. Not that Kate doesn't deserve the time with her kids, because all parents do, but she just hasn't worked enough overall. I wish she worked more because I love seeing her!
There were other interesting responses, but I don't think any really fully accounted for the double standard that seems to be operating here. If we can understand that a mother would want to prioritize her children in this special time, why can't we extend that to Kate? In fact, if Victoria takes three months off to spend concentrated time with her children, is that better than Kate's approach, which is to spread her engagements out, but make sure her overall workload is such that she can give her children steady attention rather than time in spurts? Is one better than the other? We don't usually have this kind of discussion on the blog, but today I am opening the comment section for your thoughts. Please keep it civil, of course, but I welcome vigorous debate. 

Kate with the Cadets on Valentine's Day

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Apparently, I have become the purveyor of fake news, which I hear is de rigueur these days. That's what you get when you have a brief due and your coffee hasn't really kicked in yet and you decide to really, really quickly blog about Kate. Inaccuracy. The Duchess of Cambridge was not in Wales, (that's next week on the 22nd) she was in fact near Peterborough, Cambridgeshire.

Today, Kate dropped in on a group of cadets taking part in a training camp for initiates at RAF Wittering.  She took part in various activities with the kids, and was ushered round the tarmac. I am sure Kate will be showing George snaps of mummy climbing