“The phones began ringing and didn’t stop.”
Remember that navy blue cocktail dresses Kate Middleton wore to announce her engagement with Prince William in 2010? Of course you do. Well the designer who made the dress has spoken out about the experience, saying it led to her brand Issa shutting down.
"That morning I’d gone to yoga as usual, and then I got a call from a friend telling me about the royal engagement,” designer Daniella Helayel told the Daily Mail. “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.”
Helayel says she was given no warning that Middleton would be wearing the dress.
‘The dress didn’t have a name, it was just the DJ157; I know all my dresses by their style numbers. I had no idea Kate was going to wear it. She occasionally came to the studio, but she also shopped at Fenwick and I think that is where she bought the blue dress.”
Instead of leading to the brand’s success, which is often the case when Middleton wears something – the phenomenon has been coined “The Kate Effect” – the designer says her business struggled to cope with demand.
The dress sold out within five minutes of Middleton appearing in it. “It has always been my bestselling dress. I sold 1,110 of them in one order to Neiman Marcus in New York. It was the original Issa cheap cocktail dresses, based on a design my grandmother, who was a couturier, used to wear.”
“From the day of the royal engagement our sales doubled. I didn’t have the money to finance production on that scale. The bank refused to give me credit and the factory was screaming for me to pay its bills.”
Helayel claims this led to her being forced to arrange an investor for the business, but things eventually turned sour and she resigned from her brand in 2013.