Designer of Kate Middleton’s Engagement Dress Reveals How ‘Kate Effect’ Hurt Her Brand

When Kate Middleton wore a blue wrap dress by Issa when she and Prince William announced their engagement in 2010, the dress sold out immediately.

This is just one of countless examples of the “Kate effect,” experienced by many designers and brands when the Duchess of Cambridge wears an item from their label. But for Issa designer Daniella Helayel, the “Kate effect” didn’t necessarily turn out well for her brand.

In a new interview with the Daily Mail, Helayel says that the brand hit financial troubles a year before Middleton wore the dress. On the day Middleton donned the dress, Helayel says her phone was ringing off the hook.

Kate Middleton Prince William Engagement
Kate Middleton wearing an Issa dress with Prince William to announce their engagement in 2010.
CREDIT: REX Shutterstock

“From the day of the royal engagement, our sales doubled. I didn’t have the money to finance production on that scale,” Helayel said. “The bank refused to give me credit, and the factory was screaming for me to pay its bills. I needed an investor.”

Helayel’s friend Camilla Al-Fayed — whose family owned London department store Harrod’s until 2010 and whose brother Dodi died in a car accident with Princess Diana in 1997 — took a 51 percent stake in the company in 2011. But when a new CEO came on board in 2012, Helayel said “things started moving in a different direction, which didn’t work for me.”

She left in 2013, and the brand shuttered in 2015. Despite Issa’s downfall, Helayel still has praise for Middleton, although she wouldn’t discuss if she has a personal relationship with the duchess: “Kate wore Issa for many years. She was a wonderful client, and the clothes looked great on her.”

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