When Kate Middleton’s engagement dress started a whole new trend for royal fans and their fashion shopping, it should have been a dream come true for the designer. The engagement between Kate Middleton and Prince William was a fairytale, the whole world instantly fell in love with the future Duchess of Cambridge, and women everywhere wanted to buy dresses just like the dress Middleton wore.
Just realized my homecoming dress matches my replica of Kate Middleton's engagement ring so yeah pretty excited about that.
— Haley☾ (@haleyybug_) September 23, 2013
According to People magazine, the dream turned into a nightmare for Kate’s chosen engagement dress designer, Daniella Helayel. It wasn’t a problem with Middleton’s choice or with Helayel’s design skills.
Middleton’s sapphire blue, wrapped engagement dress was absolutely gorgeous and “perfectly matched” Kate’s 12-carat sapphire engagement ring — the same ring that Prince Charles gave to Lady Diana Spencer.
Middleton chose the royal blue dress for her engagement photo as a way to honor Prince William’s mother, Diana, Princess of Wales. Diana wore a two piece suit in the same rich shade of blue for her engagement photo, a blue that also matched the sapphire-and-diamond engagement ring.
That was so touching of Prince William to bestow her mom's engagement ring to Kate Middleton. What can be more romantic than that?
— Chrysanthemum (@melybloom) November 17, 2010
Kate’s iconic engagement dress was immediately all the rage, and the dress flew off the shelves. The Independent reports that although that kind of instant popularity that Middleton brought would normally be seen as good for business, Helayel says all the publicity for the dress “ruined her life.”
The moment that Kate chose the sapphire dress to wear as a backdrop for her engagement ring was the moment that “everything changed” for the designer.
The Daily Mail writes about an interview Middleton’s engagement dress designer did with the outlet’s fashion and beauty themed You magazine.
At first, the news seemed to be very good for Issa. Sales rocketed upwards after Kate and Prince William’s engagement photo “set phones ringing.” The dress “sold out in five minutes,” and thousands of orders for Middleton look-alike outfits poured in. But reality quickly set in for the small design house.
Issa had been completely unprepared for the sudden success because no one at the company knew ahead of time that Middleton intended to wear that dress for her engagement announcement. If they’d known, they could have planned to have more of the dresses available and materials ready for future orders.
But even with preparation, Helayal says they would have faced difficulties. The situation was unprecedented. Nothing they’d experienced from the already growing “Kate effect” was anything like the extraordinary demand for the blue engagement dress.
The romance and fairytale quality of Kate and Prince William’s engagement was exactly what a recession-weary world was waiting for.
“When Kate wore that dress everything changed.”
Sales doubled instantly after Middleton’s engagement announcement, but more sales required more materials upfront, and Helayel says she “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.”
The situation went from bad to worse for the dress designer. Eventually, she found her investor, but it was someone connected to the royal family, and that led to further troubles. Dodi Al-Fayed “died in a car crash with Princess Diana in 1997.”
His sister, Camilla Al-Fayed, stepped in all those years later to help the designer who made the engagement dress for Middleton, but the Al-Fayed family were not impressed.
They’d already been outspoken and “extremely critical” of the royal family ever since Diana died. Middleton slowly switched allegiance from Issa, wore fewer of the dresses.
At the same time that Kate was seen less often in Issa designs, a new CEO was hired at Issa. Helayel “clashed with” the person now in charge of bringing Issa out of its financial crises that began with Kate Middleton.
Eventually, Helayel left, and shortly afterward, Issa shut down.
The sad truth is that the so-called Kate effect is powerful, and Middleton’s actions don’t always bring about change for the better.
What do you think? Should Middleton be more aware of her choices since all her actions can have such a far-reaching effect?
[Featured Image by Chris Jackson/Getty Images]