That dress Kate Middleton wore for the official announcement of her engagement to Prince William came from Issa London, a ten-year-old line designed by a Brazilian émigré, Daniella Helayel, that’s long been one of Middleton’s favorites. Naturally, that means Issa is also in the running to design the wedding dress itself and potentially vault to worldwide fame. Yet until now, Issa was virtually unknown in the U.S. So what is the line all about?
By Guardian fashion writer Hadley Freeman’s unenthusiastic assessment, the label is “truly the Diane von Furstenberg of the Sloaney set.” In other words, it’s pretty, but safe; something a well-bred and not terribly adventurous woman can reliably wear to polo matches or garden parties (or a really big press conference) secure in the knowledge that she’s hitting every appropriate button: feminine but not trashy; comfortable but not dowdy; current but not trendy; and so on. Considering Helayel is from the same country that gave us thong bikinis and Gisele Bündchen, her silhouettes are pretty prudish — hemlines are knee length, breasts are firmly wrapped — but the fluid drapery is universally flattering, and those vivid colors are, particularly for the U.K., tropical-icious. In addition to its society followers (Princess Beatrice, Peaches Geldof), celebrities like Madonna, Rose McGowan, Minnie Driver, Amber Rose, and Lily Allen have worn the floaty looks. There’s also Baby Issa, a new collection of “dresses for girls and shorts for boys.” Enjoy a quick roundup of Issa’s characteristic styles in the slideshow.