Ever since Kate Middleton wore a certain jewel-tone blue dress for her engagement photo with Prince William, the international fashion community has a newfound infatuation with the London-based label behind the dress, Issa, as well as its designer: Daniella Issa Helayel.
The dress has since sold out all over the world and was even knocked off by the UK grocery chain Tesco, and Helayel was even on many editors' short lists when it came to who might design Middleton's much-anticipated wedding dress.
A new profile in WWD, however, highlights how Issa's iconic, figure-flattering jersey dresses were slow to take in the fashion community when Helayel first introduced them in 2001. In fact, they languished in moth balls, really, until the line's popularity really grew between 2003-2005. Since then, they have become what UK chain Matches' fashion and buying director Bridget Cosgrave described to WWD as "one of those stealth sellers," consistently selling well.
The secret to the success likely likes in Helayel's own strategy when it comes to design. As she told WWD:
"I love making clothes to hide defects and enhance the positive qualities," she said. "For me, it always goes back to making a woman feel less fat and more secure about herself."
It may not be as lofty a focus as some other designers may boast, but it's clearly hitting the right note when it comes to customers, and the brand has serious expansion plans for 2011, most notably by expanding business to the U.S. and creating an e-commerce section of Issa's website. In addition, CEO Marc Abegg apparently recently made a deal to create Issa flip-flops for Havaianas, and is hoping to expand to profitable fashion sectors like eyewear and fragrance.